Shorthanded Rangers 'pen lets Angels escape

Shorthanded Rangers 'pen lets Angels escape

ARLINGTON -- Derek Holland gave the Rangers a chance in another tight game against Dan Haren and the Angels on Saturday. But it might have been the pitcher who wasn't available that turned this one into a 3-2 loss to their division rivals.

Holland kept the Rangers in it, leaving with a 2-1 deficit. Michael Young tied it with a two-out hit in the bottom of the eighth. The only problem was Neftali Feliz wasn't available to manager Ron Washington in a tie game headed into the ninth inning.

Instead, Washington went to left-hander Darren Oliver, who came close to navigating his way out of the top of the ninth, but gave up a two-out RBI hit to Maicer Izturis that won the game for the Angels.

The Rangers (20-19) fell back to 1 1/2 games behind the Angels in the American League West with a key game coming up Sunday afternoon, when ace C.J. Wilson goes up against Ervin Santana.

Oliver allowed a leadoff single to Angels catcher Jeff Mathis to start the ninth. Peter Bourjos' bunt moved Mathis over to second base, and Oliver followed by getting Erick Aybar to ground out to short for the second out. After a walk to Bobby Abreu -- Abreu barely checking his swing on 1-2 and 3-2 pitches -- Izturis lined a breaking ball in front of left fielder David Murphy for the game-winning hit.

"He's a good hitter," Oliver said of his former Angels teammate. "Obviously, I know. He's got some game on him. It's a tough one to lose right there."

"Late in games, I'm more aggressive -- you've got to win the game," said Izturis. "[Oliver] started me with a breaking ball when I faced him [Friday night], and that's what I was looking for this time. It was in the middle of the plate."

Oliver pitched an inning in Friday's 4-1 victory, but said he was fine pitching in back-to-back games.

"I've done that a lot of times," Oliver said.

Just off the disabled list with inflammation in his rotator cuff, Feliz has pitched in two games -- Tuesday and Friday -- and hasn't been sharp, especially with his offspeed stuff. He threw 18 pitches on Friday, and labored to the last two batters he faced in getting his seventh save.

"He felt a little cranky so we stayed away from him," Washington said. "He'll be available tomorrow. We check on these guys every single day, and he didn't give me right answer. I'm not going to push him."

Instead the Rangers' bullpen continued its tough luck at the end of games. Rangers relievers are 3-8 for the season, with Oliver taking half the losses.

"You have to give [the Angels] credit," Washington said. "They scored the run they needed to win. It was a well played game all the way around and they won it."

The Rangers tied the game in the eighth when Ian Kinsler had a two-out double off Haren. Fernando Rodney entered the game, and Young lined a single up the middle off the glove of shortstop Aybar to tie game, 2-2.

"Michael hit it good," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "but if you ask Erick, he's going to handle that ball 99 times out of a hundred."

The Rangers led, 1-0, after the second inning on a double by Mitch Moreland and an RBI single by Adrian Beltre. The Rangers had runners at second and third with one out in the inning, but failed to score as Chris Davis popped up and Endy Chavez flew out to center.

"We needed contact right there on the ground or something to the outfield," Washington said. "If we had gotten a run right there, it might have been the difference. You never know what would have happened over the course of a ballgame. But, right there, it was like they were giving up a run and Haren made a pitch and got him to pop up."

Holland allowed just two runs in six innings, but he walked three, two runners scoring. The Angels took the lead in the top of the sixth on a one-out walk by Howard Kendrick and a double by Alberto Callaspo.

Holland did work out of a jam in the fourth inning, though the Angels tied the game, 1-1. He started the inning with consecutive walks, which drew a rare visit from Washington. Holland said it was mostly a pep talk.

"It was some positive thoughts," Holland said. "It encouraged me to get through it. [It was] nothing bad. It was just me and Wash connecting."

Holland got a double-play ball from Kendrick, and though Callaspo tied the game with another double, the Rangers' young left-hander stayed away from a big inning by striking out Mark Trumbo.

"I kept away from the big inning," Holland said. "I controlled the pace of the game. I know I didn't have the best command of my sinker and slider, but I still used all of my pitches. I still feel very good about this start."

Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.