ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels had made up five games over a span of eight days in the AL West standings with a six-game winning streak. They had their top three starters lined up for a three-game series against division-leading Texas.
Things got off to a bumpy start for the Angels on Friday night as the Rangers won an 11-7 slugfest to stretch their AL West advantage to three games.
The small-ball Angels' lineup couldn't match the power-packed Rangers in this game, although Los Angeles did make a late charge after trailing 11-0.
"That's not the type game we want to play and not the type game our team is set up for," manager Mike Scioscia said.
Scioscia altered his rotation for the series, opting to start Ervin Santana on Saturday and Jered Weaver on Sunday after sending Dan Haren to the mound in the opener.
Santana and Weaver will be starting on three days' rest for the first time in their careers. Going with Haren, Santana (9-9) and Weaver (15-6) meant the Angels would send their top three starters against the Rangers.
But the Rangers knocked Haren (13-7) around for seven runs — six earned — including David Murphy's grand slam in the fifth, Haren's final batter.
Haren also had trouble in his previous start against Texas when he gave up seven runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings in a game the Rangers eventually won 9-8 on July 20.
"Every time you take the field you need good starting pitching," Scioscia said. "We need to control the game a little better on the pitching side. Tonight some things got away from us."
Nelson Cruz did the most damage for the Rangers with two homers among his four hits and four RBIs.
David Murphy's second career grand slam in the fifth knocked out Haren and the Rangers went on to a win that they hope sets a tone for the series.
Haren had won seven of his previous eight decisions and had gone at least six innings in 11 of his last 12 starts, but he gave up seven runs — six earned — and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings.
Haren was unable to develop any consistency in a game that got underway in 102-degree heat.
"You throw (106) pitches in four innings, it takes a toll," Haren said. "Throwing 20 pitches every inning is tough enough and the weather makes it harder. I never got in a rhythm where I'd get a quick inning. I was working real hard. When you work hard, you're more vulnerable to make a few mistakes. Cruz's homer was up and over the plate and Murphy, I didn't get the ball in far enough."
Rangers starter Derek Holland (12-5) allowed one run and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings with six strikeouts and two walks to improve to 6-1 in his last 10 starts.
Holland received a standing ovation when he left after the Angels finally scored on Bobby Wilson's seventh-inning single.
Russell Branyan had a three-run homer off Yoshinori Tateyama in the Angels' four-run eighth and Howie Kendrick added a two-run blast in the ninth off Mark Lowe to set up the final margin.
"Our offense got on track in the last part of the game, but there's not many positive you can take from a game when you lose, especially when you give up so many runs," Scioscia said.
NOTES: Since 2003, the Rangers are 5-2 against pitchers starting on three days' rest. ... The Angels took batting practice on the field to get acclimated to the triple-digit temperatures. The Rangers have endured plenty of heat over a record-breaking summer in Texas and opted to take BP in the air-conditioned indoor cages. ... Los Angeles LHP Scott Downs was available in the bullpen after being out for a week with a tight left hamstring.