ARLINGTON -- For manager Ron Washington it all came back to defense. There was no other explanation for a fifth straight loss to the Los Angeles Angels or a 12th straight loss to Halos starter Bartolo Colon. "If we're solid on the defensive end, Colon doesn't get that win," Washington said after the Rangers' 6-3 loss on Saturday afternoon. "We shot ourselves in the feet defensively, not offensively and not on the mound."
Three errors, a passed ball and a misplayed ball in left all cost the Rangers as they lost for the fourth time in five games. At 14-22, they are one of three teams under .400 in the American League -- Tampa Bay and Kansas City are both below .400 as well. "Obviously, it's tough losing five in a row to a division team, especially the Angels," catcher Gerald Laird said. "We've got to play better. That's the bottom line. All of us have to play better. We're much better than what we've been. We've just got to relax and play better." Especially defensively. The three errors left the Rangers with 33 for the season -- the most in the AL. "They're trying hard, we just keep making mistakes," Washington said. "They're trying to make plays. It's nothing the coaches can do. They have to correct it themselves. You have to ride with it. These are our players. I know they are better than this. They just have to get better." The loss also left the Rangers 6 1/2 games behind the Angels in the American League West. The Rangers are 3-9 in division play. "If you're going to win, you have to win within your division, and if you're going to win in the West, you have to pitch and play defense," Washington said. "All the teams can pitch and catch the ball. That's something we have to do." Washington felt the Rangers had the pitching on Saturday. Kameron Loe allowed five runs in the first two innings, but defensive mistakes didn't help. Reggie Willits and Orlando Cabrera led off the first with grounders through the left side for base hits, and Laird's passed ball moved them to second and third. After Vladimir Guerrero was walked intentionally, Gary Matthews Jr.'s sacrifice fly scored one run and Casey Kotchman's single made it 2-0. Loe retired the first two hitters in the second before walking Chone Figgins. Willits then grounded a single to right and Nelson Cruz threw wildly to third in a misguided attempt to get Figgins. The ball ended up in the Angels dugout, scoring Figgins and moving Willits to third. Willits scored on Cabrera's double. Guerrero then lined one to left that Brad Wilkerson started in on, then realized it was over his head. It went for a double and the Angels led, 5-0. "It was frustrating," Loe said. "It was frustrating to be making good pitches and have ground balls go through ... bad throws. I take everything on my shoulders. I take responsibility. I threw the pitches. I was frustrated with myself." The Rangers tried to come back. Mark Teixeira hit a two-run home run in the fourth off Colon and Sammy Sosa had an RBI single in the sixth. But Sosa's single was the Rangers' only hit in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position. They had the bases loaded with one out in the seventh, but Scot Shields got Michael Young on a line out and struck out Teixeira to end the threat. Tying the game there, Young said, "Would have been nice." Instead, the Rangers turned around and gave up an unearned run in the eighth after Kotchman singled with one out. Erick Aybar then lined to deep center and the Rangers had a shot at getting Kotchman, but Young's relay throw was wide of first and ended up in the Rangers dugout. "I'm trying to make a play," Young said. "I've made plays like that my entire career. We're trying to make aggressive plays. We just have to make better plays." Kotchman went to third and scored when third baseman Hank Blalock fielded Shea Hillenbrand's slow bouncer and threw off target to first for an error. That was the 24th unearned run the Rangers have allowed this season. The Angels have allowed 12. "These guys are playing hard," Washington said. "They've just got to hone in on some things. I've got the personnel to contend, it's just a matter of putting it together on the defensive [side]. The offense is going to do what it's going to do. We've just got to handle the ball. If we do that, this thing will turn around."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.