ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - The Los Angeles Angels are still chasing Texas in the AL West and they know there is a long way to go.
Ervin Santana didn't make it out of the fifth inning in a 7-1 loss Monday night when Rangers starter C.J. Wilson struck out nine in seven strong innings and the top two hitters in the Texas lineup snapped out of extended slumps.
Los Angeles had won five in a row with some solid pitching to enter the three-game series tied with Texas atop the division at 10-5. The Rangers had lost four of five during the same stretch, but were back home, where they are 7-0 this season.
``They know us, we know them. We've got to keep pounding. We know it's going to be a grind,' Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. ``Nobody said it will be easy for both sides. They got us this game. C.J. Wilson, the way he kept the ball down, all you could do was hit a groundball.'
Except for the Angels winning their opener a day before the rest of the AL West teams had played this season, Texas has been the division leader since last June. Last year, the Rangers won their first AL West title since 1999 after the Angels had won five of the previous six.
``I don't know if we learned anything about their club we didn't know,' Los Angeles catcher Jeff Mathis said. ``And I don't know if they learned anything about us they didn't know.'
It was the first of 19 regular-season games between them. Texas won last year's series 10-9, but finished 10 games ahead of the second-place Angels.
Kinsler, who entered hitting .170, snapped an 0-for-18 slide with a pair of extra-base hits before scoring on a suicide squeeze by Elvis Andrus, who was hitting. 176 and in a 4-for-39 slide before his three hits.
``It was definitely a good night,' Kinsler said.
Adrian Beltre homered for the second straight night and Mitch Moreland drove in three runs for the Rangers, who were back from a nine-game road trip. They have started a season with seven consecutive home victories for the first time.
Moreland's two-out, two-run single in the fourth put the Rangers ahead to stay. Texas added four runs in the fifth, including Beltre's three-run homer to straightaway center that chased Santana (0-2).
``It was a slider and he dug down and got it,' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``It wasn't that bad a pitch.'
Angels pitchers allowed only 10 runs during the five-game winning streak, a span when the starters had a 1.98 ERA.
Santana struck out three and walked two while giving up 10 hits in four-plus innings. He is 11-8 in 22 career starts against the Rangers, his most against any team.
``I don't think overall he was locked in, but he wasn't far off,' Scioscia said. ``Those guys beat us today. We didn't execute some things on the mound and at the plate, but we're not that far off.'
Kinsler started the fifth with a triple into the left-field corner that ricocheted past Vernon Wells. Andrus then bunted with Kinsler charging home and was credited with a single when Santana threw late and high to first base. Michael Young followed with a single before Beltre's fifth homer.
Wilson (2-0) was already over 100 pitches when he gave up three consecutive two-out singles in the seventh, the last to Howie Kendrick for the Angels' only run. The crafty left-hander got a rousing ovation from the crowd when walking to the dugout after he got Bobby Abreu on an inning-ending flyball.
Wilson scattered nine hits. His only walk was to Abreu in the first before Hunter grounded into a double play.
NOTES: Hunter was in a 2-for-30 slide before a bloop single in the eighth that popped out of the glove of a leaping Kinsler at 2B. ... Rangers C Mike Napoli, who had been in the Angels' organization the past 11 years since they drafted him in 2000, played his first game against them. He was 1 for 3 with a bloop double on a checked swing. ... Angels INF Erick Aybar, out since April 3 because of a left oblique strain, is expected to rejoin the team for the series finale Wednesday. ... Los Angeles LHP Scott Kazmir, out since April 4 when he had lower back soreness, is working out with the team in advance of going to extended spring training in Arizona. Scioscia said Kazmir's back is healthy, but he needs to work on finding his release point.
The Associated Press News Service
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