When the Los Angeles Angels had two on and two outs in a tie game, Texas manager Ron Washington summoned Alexi Ogando. It seemed like a good decision, because the right-hander retired his first batter in 21 of his previous 24 appearances this season.
Ogando did his job, getting a ground ball from pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis. But second baseman Ian Kinsler booted it, and Mike Trout followed with a bases-loaded two-run single in the seventh inning to help the Angels pin a 4-2 loss on Colby Lewis and the Rangers in the opener of a 10-game California trip.
Lewis (4-4) held the Angels to one hit over the first five innings before giving up two runs in the sixth on an RBI triple by Trout and a sacrifice fly from Albert Pujols. The right-hander retired his first two batters in the seventh before giving up a single to Howie Kendrick and hitting Erick Aybar with an 0-2 pitch.
"Colby was just trying to get inside on Aybar to set up the next pitch, but he just went too far," Washington said. "Ogando comes in and does his job. He got the ground ball. We just didn't pick it up. Kinsler's got the surest hands at second base in the game. When the ball was hit to him, I thought it was an out. That brought another guy up to the plate, and he delivered the base hit. There's the game."
The Rangers threatened to regain the lead in the top of the seventh after third baseman Alberto Callaspo misplayed Nelson Cruz's leadoff grounder for his second error of the season and Kinsler hit a ground-rule double with two out. But Jerome (6-2) Williams escaped the jam with the help of Trout, who raced toward the warning track in center field and reached over his head to grab Elvis Andrus' bid for extra bases.
"He's a good player -- a real good player," Washington said. "He's got speed, a little pop in that bat, and he makes contact. He's an exciting-looking little player."
Williams allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings and struck out four. The Angels' ninth victory in 11 games reduced the Rangers' lead over them in the AL West to 4 1-2 games. The two-time defending AL champions had a nine-game cushion over the Halos on April 30.
"We got off to an awfully good start after I got here. And when you get off to a start like that, the expectations are to play that way year after year," said Rangers CEO and president Nolan Ryan, who joined the team for the first two games of this three-game series. "You have to realize that you're going to have periods where you don't play as well as you do at other times. I think we've just gone through that, and hopefully the month of June will play better than the month of May.
"But I'm very pleased at where we are as a ballclub," Ryan added. "I mean, if you break it down, obviously there are things that you'd want to see better. But as a whole, I think we're doing well. I don't know if your club is ever where you want it to be, because you're always trying to improve your ballclub. But I think this is the best-balanced ballclub we've had since I've been here, and I'm very proud of that."
The Rangers scored their runs on RBI singles by Adrian Beltre and former Angel Mike Napoli in the first and fourth innings. Williams retired 10 of his first 18 batters, getting No.9 hitter Mike Moreland on inning-ending double-play grounders in the second and fourth, after Cruz and David Murphy got themselves into scoring position with stolen bases.
"I thought Williams made some adjustments from the last time we faced him," Washington said. "He kept the ball inside on us and he was cutting it a lot. We still had some opportunities, but he made some pitches when he had to and didn't make very many mistakes. Twice we had runners in scoring position and we hit into double plays. So we certainly put ourselves in position to put more than two runs on the board."
Lewis retired his first 10 batters before giving up a single to Callaspo and a walk to Pujols. But the right-hander came back to strike out Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo, whose four-game home run streak ended one shy of the franchise record set by Bobby Bonds in 1977.
Scott Downs pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Ernesto Frieri pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his third save in as many chances. The right-hander has not allowed a hit in 13 innings since joining the Angels in a trade with San Diego on May 3, and has fanned 27 of the 50 batters he's faced.
Notes: Ryan, who pitched four of his record seven no-hitters with the Angels, threw out a ceremonial first pitch. Friday was the 37th anniversary of his fourth no-hitter for the Halos, a 1-0 win against Baltimore at the "Big A." ... Ryan was part of the most one-sided trade in Angels history on December 10, 1971, when he was acquired from the New York Mets with three minor leaguers for Jim Fregosi. "I see him periodically because he's scouting, but he managed me in `79 here, so we've kind of gone past that," Ryan said. "We've both been in the game so long, and we know that's just part of it. I've never really talked to him about it. The Mets got him with a need and a purpose of putting him at third base, thinking they might fill a hole that they had, and the Angels at that time were looking for bodies and some people with some upside."