Rangers try to stem the tide against charging Angels

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim try to get themselves even closer in the American League West on Wednesday when they go for a third straight win against the division-leading Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Los Angeles has won the first two games of this set in dominating fashion to move within three games of the Rangers in the division.

After a 15-8 rout to open the series, Albert Pujols hit a pair of solo home runs and Mike Trout added a two-run homer on Tuesday to propel the Angels to a a 6-2 win.

Trout also tied an MLB rookie record for runs scored in a month by crossing the plate twice, giving him 32 runs scored in July to tie Al Trosky, who did it for Cleveland in 1934.

Jered Weaver (14-1) allowed two runs on five hits and a walk over 6 1/3 innings to win his eighth straight start and ninth consecutive decision.

He became the first Angels pitcher to win eight starts in a row since Chuck Finley won 10 straight from July 1-August 15, 1997.

"Any time we can gain some games on these guys, especially at their home park, is clutch," Weaver said about the Rangers, who lead the Angels by three games for the top spot in the AL West. "We're getting down to the nitty gritty where we need to get some wins going and it's good to take the first two from these guys."

Derek Holland (7-6) surrendered six runs on five hits and four walks through 6 2/3 innings to take the loss for Texas, which has dropped eight of its last 12.

The Angels tonight will turn to righty Garrett Richards, who had been removed from rotation following the acquisition of Zack Greinke. However, Dan Haren was scratched with stiffness in his back, giving Richards another shot.

"I'm going to seize every opportunity that they give me," Richards said Tuesday. "That's the only thing you can do, just take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you."

Richards has lost two of his last three decisions and is 3-2 with a 3.91 ERA. Richards lost to Kansas City last Tuesday, allowing four runs and five hits in five innings.

He hasn't recorded a decision in two starts against the Rangers, despite pitching to a 1.59 ERA in those outings.

Texas, meanwhile, will counter with Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish, who has struggled of late. Darvish was roughed up by the Chicago White Sox on Friday for six runs (5 earned) and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings to drop to 11-7, while raising his ERA to 4.05.

"Overall it was not a good game," he said through a translator.

After winning each of his first seven starts in Arlington, Darvish has lost his last two there, while pitching to a 5.40 ERA.

Darvish, who is 2-1 vs. the Angels this season, is 1-2 with a 6.41 ERA three starts since the All-Star break.

The Angels are 7-4 against the Rangers this season.