Rangers can't keep up early lead
Blalock's homer in three-run first not enough against Angels
ARLINGTON -- An early lead quickly evaporated as the Rangers' losing streak reached four games Monday night with a 7-4 loss to the Angels.
Hank Blalock's two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning gave Texas a 3-2 lead. After that, shaky pitching, faulty fielding and untimely hitting dropped the Rangers to 5-8 this season and 2-5 on the homestand that ends Tuesday.
The Angels scored two runs in the top of the first inning on Casey Kotchman's two-out, bases-loaded single. Ian Kinsler led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored on Michael Young's sacrifice fly before Blalock hit his second homer this season.
That lead lasted just five pitches into the second inning, when Mike Napoli clouted his fourth homer over the 407-foot sign in right-center field. The Angels added two runs for a 5-3 lead. Vladimir Guerrero doubled to drive in one, then scored himself when Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton fielded Garret Anderson's single and threw in to second base when he saw third-base coach Dino Ebel hold Guerrero.
The Rangers' best chance to regain the lead came in the third inning when they loaded the bases with one out. Marlon Byrd then grounded into an inning-ending double play, despite Milton Bradley's efforts to distract Angels shortstop Erick Aybar.
"Marlon got a little aggressive and swung at a first-pitch sinker," manager Ron Washington said. "I wish he would have given [pitcher Ervin Santana] that pitch. He could have gotten another that he could have lifted."
Leading off the fifth inning for the Angels, Guerrero hit a high fly that fell in front of Hamilton. With two out and two runners on base, Byrd charged Maicer Izturis' line-drive single, but allowed the ball to skip past him for an error as two runs scored.
"The error Marlon made was physical. He went to make a play and missed," Washington said. "The one with Josh was mental. When the guy is being held up, your job is to throw to home plate. He just lost it right there."
Hamilton said he still is still learning how to play center field at Rangers Ballpark.
"It's the wind," Hamilton said. "It's all over the place."
Losing pitcher Jason Jennings (0-3) allowed seven hits and seven runs -- six earned -- in 4 2/3 innings. Three of the four batters he walked also scored.
"I'd throw three or four good pitches in a row, but the one that's bad is killing me," Jennings said. "I know I threw the ball well the last three innings, but I've got to not put us in a hole like that. For me to come out and not have a shut-down inning after we got the lead was a bummer."
Following Jennings, Wes Littleton pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in his first game since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma. Jamey Wright, returning from a lower back injury, held the Angels scoreless in the eighth inning, even though they loaded the bases with no outs.
The Rangers brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning. After Blalock singled for his third RBI of the night, Scot Shields relieved Justin Speier for the Angels. Shields struck out pinch-hitter David Murphy and retired Frank Catalanotto on a ground ball.
Lary Bump is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.