ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Texas Rangers know they have their work cut out for themselves if they want to wrestle the AL West title away from the defending division champion Oakland Athletics. And the Los Angeles Angels aren't making it any easier for them.
Garrett Richards pitched seven effective innings, and the Angels parlayed three errors and another mammoth home run by Mark Trumbo into five early runs against Derek Holland to beat Texas 8-3 Saturday night. The Rangers' fifth loss in six games, coupled with Oakland's 2-1 victory against Houston, put them 1 1-2 games behind the Athletics with 21 remaining.
"Their job is to try to spoil us from getting to the playoffs," Holland said. "But no matter who we play, it's going to be tough. I don't care if it's the Angels or whoever you want to throw out there. There's not going to be an easy game from here on out, whether they're a first-place team or a last-place team. We're all competing to get somewhere, and other teams are trying to knock us out."
The Angels are 14 1-2 games out of first place despite winning 12 of their last 15 games. And despite the fact that they will miss the postseason for the fourth straight year, they will definitely have a say in the outcome of the division race. The final week of their schedule includes a three-game series at home against Oakland, followed by a four-game set at Texas.
"They're a good team over there, but we're playing good ball right now and every day is a new opportunity to get another W, get some momentum for next year and knock some teams out," Mike Trout said after the Angels' 12th victory in 15 games.
"If we were playing this kind of ball in April, it would have been a different story now and down the road. But it's been one of those years. If you look at our lineup now compared to April, it's two different teams. Guys have come up from the minors and are getting an opportunity to play. We're playing together, pitching great and having some fun."
Richards (6-6) allowed two runs — one earned — and six hits while striking out five and walking one. The right-hander, who finished his night by fanning the side, is 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in seven starts at home this season.
Holland (9-8) was charged with eight runs — four earned — and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out four and walked one in his sixth attempt to join Kenny Rogers as the only left-handers in the history of the Rangers/Washington Senators franchise with double-digit victories in three consecutive seasons.
"I didn't pitch very well, and I'm very disappointed at the way that I performed," Holland said. "I know I'm a better pitcher than I have been performing like for the last two or three outings. I'm very frustrated with the way things turned out."
Holland, whose last victory was Aug. 4 at Oakland, gave up unearned runs in the first two innings. The Angels took a 3-1 lead in the first after Holland fielded a dribbler toward the first base line by leadoff man J.B. Shuck and committed a two-base throwing error.
Shuck advanced on Erick Aybar's sacrifice bunt and scored when four-time Gold Glove third baseman Adrian Beltre misplayed Trout's slow bouncer for his 13th error. Trumbo drove the next pitch to center field for his 31st homer and second in two nights, following a drought of 57 at-bats without one.
"He's having an awesome year," Trout said. "He's learning a lot of new things this year and making adjustments at the plate. He went through a couple of stretches where he was pressing a little bit, but he's back to being Trumbo and every at bat you look at him and he's got a chance to launch one. So it's fun to watch."
The Angels blew the game open in the sixth with three more runs that chased Holland.
Texas catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who ended the scoring with a leadoff homer in the ninth against Cory Rasmus.
NOTES: Trumbo is batting .235 with 20 games remaining. The lowest average by any Angels player who hit at least 30 homers in a season was by 3B Troy Glaus, who batted .250 with 41 homers in 2001 and .250 with 30 homers in 2002. ... Trumbo's homer was the 17th allowed by Holland, who set a Rangers club record for lefties last season by giving up 32. ... Rangers manager Ron Washington flip-flopped Leonys Martin and rookie Jurickson Profar in the batting order, putting Profar in the leadoff spot and batting the struggling Martin ninth to take some pressure off him. The move produced a run in the second inning as Martin singled with two out, stole second and scored on Profar's single.