ARLINGTON (AP) – Scott Baker and the Texas Rangers are in a rut they can’t seem to get out of.
With their 10-7 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, the Rangers have dropped eight consecutive games, eight straight at home, and their last 12 against AL West opponents.
Baker (0-3) is having an even tougher time as the Rangers have lost all four of his starts, and been beaten in 15 games in which he has pitched.
Texas was 35-35 through 70 games, but since then the Rangers are 3-22. It is the first time they have been 19 games under .500 since June 2007.
When Baker left Sunday’s game after four innings, he didn’t have the benefit of having Texas’ best long reliever to replace him, because he is the Rangers’ top bullpen option.
The Rangers were losing 5-4 at the time.
“The bullpen, you could see, was dead,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We just ended the first half, and they were dead. We used ’em a lot. We have to figure out a way to get our starting pitchers deep in ballgames.”
Baker and the Rangers entered the All-Star break with baseball’s worst record (38-57).
“I think it’s a must-need time off for the whole team,” Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “Everybody needs this three, four days off. Just clear our mind, have some fun, enjoy the family time and be back for the second half.”
The Angels’ Mike Trout doubled twice and drove in four runs as Los Angeles took a five-game winning streak into the break.
Trout, who will start the All-Star game in the AL outfield, sent three runs home by blooping a two-out double in the second inning. He broke a 4-all tie with a double in the fourth.
The Angels, a major league-best 26-9 since June 6, swept a four-game series against Texas for the first time.
“That’s a very relentless ballclub over there,” Washington said. “Every time you make a mistake, they make you pay. Each inning we scored, except for one, they came back and answered. We’ve got to stop that stuff.”
Winning pitcher Tyler Skaggs (5-5) left after giving up two singles to start the sixth.
Joe Smith pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 15th save in 19 opportunities. He set an Angels record with his 10th consecutive appearance of at least an inning without allowing a hit. He is 1-0 with eight saves in July.
The Angels are 1½ games behind AL West-leading Oakland.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked if his team caught Texas at the right time.
“We don’t care who we’re playing or when we’re playing, but how we’re playing,” he said. “They scored seven runs. You’ve got to play well to shut them down.”
Alex Rios drove in three of the Rangers’ runs.
His first-inning sacrifice fly gave them a 1-0 lead. In the third, Texas trailed 4-1 before Rios hit a two-run double, and Adrian Beltre tied the game 4-4 with a ground out.
The Angels regained the lead for good in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Kole Calhoun and Trout.
Rangers rookie left fielder Jake Smolinski has been one bright spot in the fog of the current losing streak. In his first five major league starts, he has had at least two hits in four of those.
On Sunday, Smolinski was 2 for 4. He singled to drive in a run in the sixth inning, and singled again with two out in the eighth when the Angels’ lead was 9-7.
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