ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - The AL West-chasing Los Angeles Angels have to wait until the final series of the regular season for another head-to-head opportunity against Texas.
Their chance to cut the division deficit to a single game with re-signed ace Jered Weaver on the mound came to a dead stop in a 9-5 loss to the Rangers on Sunday night.
Weaver threw his head back in disbelief when Elvis Andrus popped up a bunt that stopped on the chalk line between he and catcher Jeff Mathis for an infield single instead of a sacrifice. Then after a pitching change, Josh Hamilton delivered a tiebreaking RBI single before pinch-hitter Endy Chavez had a two-run single.
``That ball just died on the line, and that contributed more than anything to that inning,' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Los Angeles had staked Weaver (15-7) to an early 4-1 lead in his first career start on three days of rest. Things really unraveled in the seventh, when David Murphy led off with a double and scored on Ian Kinsler's single that tied the game at 5 before the bunt that even Andrus described as lucky.
Weaver gave up seven runs and eight hits. He struck out two with four walks that matched a season high.
``I don't think short rest had anything to do with it,' Weaver said. ``I just struggled with location.'
It was Weaver's second start since signing an $85 million, five-year contract extension before the chance to become an unrestricted free agent this winter. The right-hander allowed four hits over eight scoreless innings Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.
But unlike Ervin Santana on Saturday night, Weaver wasn't able to beat the Rangers on short rest.
``His stuff looked crisp early but he was struggling with command. But as the game progressed, he make some pitches and kept us in the game. Then he lost some crispness in the seventh,' Scioscia said. ``Short rest wasn't an issue.'
Los Angeles (72-61) had won seven of eight. That stretch began Aug. 18, when the Angels got a game-ending home run by Mark Trumbo to avoid being swept by Texas in a four-game series at home and falling eight games back.
Texas (76-59) had lost seven of 10 games, watching its division lead shrink from seven games to two before taking two out of three in this series.
The AL West's top two teams don't play again until a three-game series on the West Coast to end the regular season, Sept. 26-28.
``We match up well against each other. We'll see where this leads,' said Howie Kendrick, who was 3 for 3 and homered for the fifth time in six games for the Angels.
``They played a little better than us, they won the game. That's the only way I can slice it,' Scioscia said. ``We're ready. It's all in front of us. Our challenge is really clear. Our team is playing the best it has all year.'
The Angels, who were off two out of four days before getting to Texas, open a four-game series Monday at Seattle.
Hamilton was 3 for 21 on the homestand without an RBI the past four games before his 17th homer tied the game. That came on the first pitch after Andrus had an RBI triple that snapped his 3-for-32 slide.
``It was huge for us because we feed off of Josh,' manager Ron Washington said. ``Elvis hits the triple, then Josh comes right behind that and hits a two-run bomb to tie it up. That's exciting right there, and energizing.'
Darren Oliver (5-5) pitched a scoreless inning in relief of starter Colby Lewis before the Rangers knocked Weaver out of the game.
Hamilton greeted reliever Scott Downs in the seventh with a single. Chavez later hit against Bobby Cassevah.
Chavez was hitting in place of Craig Gentry, who an inning earlier went into the game after right fielder Nelson Cruz strained his left hamstring running out a double. Cruz, who has had a history of hamstring problems, will be re-evaluated Monday, an off day for the Rangers.
Kendrick had a one-out double in the first off Lewis and scored on Bobby Abreu's single. Erick Aybar had a triple and scored when Jeff Mathis singled in the second. Abreu doubled in the third and scored on a double by Trumbo's before Vernon Wells' RBI double made it 4-1.
Kendrick's 14th homer made it 5-4 in the fifth. That was the AL-high 31st homer allowed by Lewis, who gave up five runs and eight hits over six innings.
Notes: Angels right-hander Joel Pineiro, 0-3 in his five starts since the All-Star break with a demotion to the bullpen in that stretch, pitches Monday in the series opener against the Mariners. ... Texas leads the season series 9-7.
The Associated Press News Service
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