Angels face must-win situation vs. Texas

The Angels face a must-win situation tonight against the rival Rangers, and even that probably won't be enough to get them into the postseason.

After a back-breaking loss on Sunday, the sun is just about to set on Los Angeles' season as it begins a three-game series against the Rangers and C.J. Wilson, who makes his final regular-season start before getting the ball in Texas' playoff opener this Friday.

With little room for error, the Angels took a three-run lead into the ninth inning yesterday versus the Athletics, who proceeded to put up a four-spot in the frame to hand Los Angeles a 6-5 defeat. Los Angeles fell three games behind wild card-leading Boston with three to play, meaning a loss tonight or a victory by the Red Sox in Baltimore will eliminate the Angels from postseason contention.

Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells hit solo homers in the Angels' third loss in four games and Joel Pineiro threw 6 1/3 scoreless frames in the start before the bullpen squandered the lead.

"It hurts to lose a game like that," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said.

Texas has little pressure on it tonight as it has already clinched its second straight American League West title. The Rangers are looking to build some momentum before the postseason and won for the 11th time in 13 games on Sunday when they finished off a three-game sweep of the Mariners with a 12-5 rout.

Yorvit Torrealba connected on a grand slam and a solo homer, while Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre both went deep as well. Beltre has homered in three straight games, giving him 30 on the season.

"We're playing good baseball. We're definitely capable of it," Kinsler said of the Rangers possibly making a run in the playoffs.

By matching a club record with 52 home wins this year, the Rangers stayed a game up on the Tigers for home-field advantage in the AL Division Series that will begin on Friday.

C.J. Wilson will make a brief appearance at the start of this game before going on three days' rest against a still-unknown opponent on Friday. Wilson, though, isn't taking this outing lightly with home-field advantage still on the line.

"It's not about staying sharp," he told Texas' website. "You can stay sharp throwing a simulated game or throwing in the bullpen. We still need to win as many games as possible to get the home-field advantage. We know we'll be playing somebody in the playoffs, but we'd like to play at home."

Wilson was rocked for four solo homers over five innings of a loss when he last faced the Angels on Aug. 27. Wells, Peter Bourjos, Mike Trout and Bobby Wilson all took him deep to give him a 2-2 mark and 2.81 earned run average in five starts versus LA this year.

The left-hander has allowed only five earned runs in five starts this month since, going 3-1 with a 1.27 ERA. The 30-year-old Wilson did not factor into the decision of his last start on Wednesday in Oakland after allowing two runs on five hits and three walks over six innings before exiting due to a blister on his left middle finger.

Wilson is 16-7 with a 2.97 ERA on 33 starts this year.

Dan Haren tries to keep the Angels' season alive tonight after winning for the third time in four starts on Wednesday in Toronto. He held the Blue Jays to a run on four hits and two walks over eight innings, but was unable to pitch the ninth after taking a liner off his left wrist on the final out of the eighth.

Still, the right-hander improved to 16-9 with a 3.16 ERA to equal his previous career-high win total set in 2008 with Arizona. He is also 9-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 15 games at home this year.

Haren, 31, lost to the Rangers on Aug. 26 after getting touched for six earned runs over 4 1/3 innings. He allowed a grand slam to David Murphy and is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in three games versus the Rangers this year.

Texas is 9-7 versus Los Angeles this season.