(Sports Network) - It's understandable why Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington is not comfortable with an eight-game lead atop the American League West Division because his club hasn't been playing up to standard.
Once proud owners of a 10-game advantage in the division earlier this month, the Rangers must get back on track and will try Tuesday in the second test of a three-game series against the AL West-rival LA Angels of Anaheim. They have dropped two straight and three of four games, including Monday's 7-4 defeat to the Angels in the series opener from the Big A.
Derek Holland was saddled with the loss and allowed four runs and six hits over 3 2/3 innings. He also walked three batters and struck out one to fall to 3-4 on the season.
"We fought well, but we gave up too many two-out base hits," Washington said. "What got Derek in trouble, he couldn't get that third out after two. We just left too many men on base tonight."
Chris Davis homered and David Murphy went 5-for-5 with a run scored for Texas, which is now eight games in front of Oakland and 9 1/2 games ahead of the Angels for the division lead with 13 games left. Texas' magic number to clinch its first AL West title since 1999 is six. That was the last time the Rangers made the postseason. Nelson Cruz extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single in the top of the fourth inning.
Texas, which went 3-for-14 with men in scoring position and stranded 12 on base, will hand the ball to Colby Lewis this evening and he's won two straight starts since going 0-7 in his previous nine appearances. Lewis beat Detroit in last Wednesday's 11-7 triumph and allowed five runs -- two earned -- in six innings to push his mark to 11-12 with a 3.84 ERA in 29 starts.
Lewis is only 5-8 in 16 starts away from Arlington this season and 3-1 in seven career games, five of which have been starts, against Anaheim.
The Angels have been playing well lately, but unfortunately it may be too little too late for the three-time defending AL West champions. They took two of three matchups in Tampa Bay over the weekend and have won eight of the last 11 games, including last night's victory over the Rangers.
Jered Weaver picked up the win by holding Texas to three runs on nine hits and two walks through 6 2/3 innings. Fernando Rodney then posted his 12th save with a scoreless ninth inning.
"I thought my stuff was pretty good tonight, I was able to battle," said Weaver, who added two strikeouts to bring his total to 220 this season, the most for an Angels hurler since Nolan Ryan had 223 in 1979. "Any time you go out there with a four-run lead, it's a comfort level with a pitcher. The defense played well behind me. It was a good win against those guys."
Torii Hunter stroked a two-run single in the sixth inning, while Howie Kendrick doubled in a run and scored twice for Los Angeles.
Taking the mound for the hosts tonight will be Ervin Santana. The Dominican right-hander is 6-1 in his last eight starts and did not record a decision the previous time out in a 3-2 loss at Cleveland last Thursday. Santana was on the hill for eight inning and surrendered only two runs and four hits with five K's and three walks.
Santana is still 16-9 in 30 starts this season and lowered his ERA to 3.93. He defeated Texas on July 30 at home and is 10-6 in 18 career starts in this series.
Texas has won seven of 13 meetings with the Angels this season, but lost two of three games the last time it visited Angel Stadium from July 30-August 1.