ARLINGTON, Texas – The scenario is pretty simple and bleak for the Los Angeles Angels.
To reach the playoffs they have to sweep their three-game series in Seattle and hope Texas does the same in Oakland. That wou;d force a 163rd game, a tiebreaker with the A's for the AL's second wild card.
Los Angeles could have used more than a split Sunday against the AL West-leading Rangers.
"We needed to get that second game obviously to keep pace and put ourselves in a little better position," manager Mike Scioscia said. "These guys played their hearts out. I don't know that you can ask much more than that."
Torii Hunter hit a two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning of the opener off Joe Nathan as the Angels rallied for a 5-4 victory.
But Mike Napoli homered twice and drove in six runs against his former team as Texas won the nightcap 8-7. And Nathan closed out that one for his 37th save, assuring playoff spots for the two-time defending AL champion Rangers, New York Yankees and Baltimore.
"Any reliever would ask to get out there and try and put this afternoon's game behind them," Nathan said. "The team over there is playing great, pushed us right the limit again. We've still got some work to do."
The Rangers are still trying to win another division title.
Texas (93-66) has to win at least once during its season-ending, three-game series at second-place Oakland for the AL West championship.
"You would think there would be a letdown, but because these guys take each game for what it is, there is no letdown," manager Ron Washington said. "Yes, it was a tough loss the first one."
Los Angeles (88-71) trails the A's by three games for the AL's second wild card with three games left.
The Angels led 4-0 after only five batters off Derek Holland (12-6) in the second game, but Ervin Santana (9-13) quickly squandered that.
David Murphy and Napoli hit back-to-back homers in the second as Texas closed to 4-3. Josh Hamilton had a double in the first for his 127th RBI.
Napoli's 23rd homer an inning later made it 6-4 and chased Santana, who has given up a majors-high 39 homers. Napoli drove a two-run double into the left-center gap in the fifth to make it 8-4.
It was Napoli's 10th career multihomer game, four of them against his former team the past two seasons. Napoli played five years for the Angels before being traded twice in five days before the 2011 season, to Toronto and then Texas.
"Sometimes there's going to be that hitter you don't match up well against," Scioscia said.
Mike Trout, who in the opener became the first major league rookie to reach 30 homers and 40 stolen bases in the same season, struck out to start the second game against Holland.
But the Angels then had four straight hits. Albert Pujols had an RBI double and scored on a single by Hunter before Mark Trumbo's 32nd homer, a two-run shot.
Nathan took over after Koji Uehara struck out the side in the eighth. Uehara has retired all 23 batters faced his last nine games, with 15 strikeouts.
Holland managed to get into the seventh inning, and didn't allow any more runs until a three-run homer by Howie Kendrick, the last batter he faced. The left-hander struck out five while allowing seven runs and 12 hits.
Hunter, who lives in nearby Prosper, had seven hits in the doubleheader. He is hitting .350 (98 of 280) since the All-Star break, and his game-winning double into the left-center gap came right after Nathan (3-5), his former teammate in Minnesota, struck out Trout.
The Angels are still trying to make up for two bad slumps. After adding slugger Pujols and left-hander C.J. Wilson this winter, they were 8-15 in April. They had a 4-13 slide to start August.
But they still have a chance to make the playoffs after winning 11 of their last 16 games, if they get a lot of help from the Rangers.
So what do the Angels do now?
"We go to Seattle and fight like hell," Trumbo said.
NOTES: The 21-year-old Trout is the youngest player with a 30-30 season. He needs two stolen bases to become only the third player ever with 30 homers and 50 stolen bases. The others? Eric Davis (1987) and Barry Bonds (1990).... Garrett Richards (4-3) retired Nelson Cruz with two runners on in the eighth in the opener, and Ernesto Frieri pitched a perfect ninth in the opener for his 24th save in 26 chances. ... Yu Darvish struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings in the opener, when Cruz hit his 24th homer and also threw Trout out on the bases from right field. ... Holland and Santana was the scheduled matchup for Saturday's game, which was called off four hours after its scheduled start because of rain.