Angels prep for playoffs in 2-1 loss to Texas
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Although Huston Street is never pleased about giving up a ninth-inning homer, the veteran closer thinks he learned something he can use next month in games that matter a bit more.
The Los Angeles Angels all plan to take a cautious, learning approach to their final games of the regular season as they prepare for what they hope will be a memorable postseason run.
Ryan Rua hit his first major league homer, and the Texas Rangers beat the playoff-bound Angels 2-1 Sunday for their eighth win in nine games.
Although the AL West champion Angels (96-60) wrapped up their home schedule with a quiet loss, they still finished with a league-best 52 home victories. They have lost five of eight overall, but still lead Baltimore by 2 1/2 games for home-field advantage throughout the postseason after the Orioles' 3-2 loss to Boston.
The Angels are still trying to win, but they're also trying to stay healthy and happy. When Howie Kendrick felt minor tightness in his hamstring late in the game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia immediately yanked him.
''There's a lot to play for, a lot to look at,'' Scioscia said. ''We're trying to win ballgames. We definitely want to try to get that best overall record ... but we're going to have to be sensitive to the needs of every individual player, and that's going to take a precedent over trying to push them too hard to where some of these guys break.''
Albert Pujols drove in the Angels' only run in the finale of a 10-game homestand during which they clinched their first playoff berth and division title since 2009.
Rua broke a tie with his one-out shot to left off Street (1-2), the Angels' normally reliable closer. It was the first homer in 83 at-bats for Rua, who made his Texas debut late last month.
''I normally don't throw a fastball in ... but I just wanted to work on something,'' Street said. ''I know it's a tie game, but it was a pitch I felt like I had set up. You can build off of outings like today.''
Tomas Telis had a bases-loaded infield single for the big league-worst Rangers, who took two of three in majors-leading Los Angeles' final home series of the regular season.
''I like their lineup,'' Texas interim manager Tim Bogar said of the Angels. ''It's strong all the way through. Their starting pitching has had a couple of injuries that might slow them down just a little bit, but they're a strong team. Their bullpen has been really strong the past month, so I think they have the momentum they need to go into the playoffs and do what they need to do.''
Shawn Tolleson (3-1) got two outs in the eighth for Texas. Neftali Feliz struck out the side for his 11th save.
Texas' Nick Tepesch was sharp in his first start after earning his only victory since June, pitching seven innings of four-hit ball against the majors' most productive offense.
Cory Rasmus pitched into the fifth inning for the first time since the Angels decided to fill injured Garrett Richards' rotation spot with bullpen starts led off by the right-hander. Rasmus has been impressive in his five starts under that strategy, yielding three runs and eight hits in 16 innings.
HIT BY PITCH
Tepesch hit Mike Trout in the upper arm in the first inning, plunking the favorite for AL MVP for the second time this month. Texas RHP Nick Martinez also has hit Trout twice in the clubs' last two series.
Rangers: OF Alex Rios will sit out the final week of the season to rest his badly bruised thumb. He hasn't played since Sept. 4.
Angels: OF Josh Hamilton sat out for the 16th time in 17 games with upper-body pain.
Rangers: Derek Holland (1-0, 0.99 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season against Houston's Nick Tropeano at home Monday night.
Angels: C.J. Wilson (13-9, 4.42 ERA) returns from a dominant start to face Oakland's Jeff Samardzija on Monday night.