- Mark Saxon, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Angels built a three-run early lead, but fell apart in a couple of sloppy innings and lost the deciding game of their important three-game series against the Texas Rangers 9-5 Sunday night. Ace Jered Weaver struggled pitching for the first time in his career on three days' rest, allowing seven runs in in six innings.
The Angels slipped to three games back in the AL West.
Hot Howie. In his last 10 games, Howie Kendrick has lived up to his nickname: Truck. He's running over everything in his path. He's 16-for-40 (.400) with six home runs and 10 RBIs since the third game of the previous Texas series. It's been a streaky power season for Kendrick, who hits home runs in bunches -- early and late. He's already launched 14 long balls, well above his career high of 10.
Early action. One of the issues for the Angels this season was an inability to score early for their pitchers. That was in play Friday night, but not the past two games. Bobby Abreu had an RBI single in the first inning, Jeff Mathis had one in the second and the Angels scored twice in the third. Weaver had plenty to work with.
Schedules. Before you start thinking this race is over, consider upcoming games: The Angels' next 10 games are against the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins, who are each at least 20 games under .500. Meanwhile, the Rangers play the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox, who collectively are 45 games above .500. If the Rangers are still up by three games or so on Sept. 8, they probably deserve this thing.
Weaver. He managed to get in a nice groove in the middle innings, but much of the night he didn't look like himself. He struggled to put away hitters and only struck out two guys, evidence he didn't have sharp stuff. It was Weaver's worst start this year and might make manager Mike Scioscia hesitate to use him on short rest later this season.
Running a-muck. The Angels' aggressive base running might make a little more sense when the hitters are cold. With guys mashing extra-base hits all over the park, it seems like they give struggling pitchers easy outs sometimes. Angels base runners tested strong-armed catcher Yorvit Torrealba twice in the first three innings and he threw out Mathis and Kendrick trying to steal. Without those outs, the Angels almost certainly would have scored an extra run early and gotten to Texas' bullpen earlier.
Facing Napoli. Mike Napoli apparently learned a few things about Angels pitching from all those years catching those guys. But did the Angels learn nothing about his swing after watching him hit for them? It's hard to tell. So far, Napoli is 17-for-48 (.354) with two home runs and six doubles against his ex-team.
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