Angels try to close the gap with AL West-leading Rangers

If the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are going to make a game series with the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium.

The Angels enter this set four games back of the Rangers, but have lost four of their last five games following a series loss in Toronto that culminated with an extra-inning defeat on Sunday.

Los Angeles, which will play the Rangers seven times over the next two weeks and 10 more times before the end of the season, won just twice on its six-game swing through New York and Toronto.

"Not a good road trip," said Angels outfielder Torii Hunter "We'll just have to try and bounce back, starting (Monday)."

Getting the call for the Angels tonight will be young righty Garrett Richards, who will be making his second big league start. Richards lost his debut at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, as he allowed six runs and six hits in five innings.

"It was a tremendous honor to be able to pitch in the big leagues, especially with this organization," Richards said. "There are a couple of things I wish would have gone better or gone differently, but probably the best thing that came out of it for me was striking out [Derek Jeter]. That was pretty cool."

Richards will be opposed by All-Star right-hander Alexi Ogando, who is 11-5 with a 3.22 ERA. Ogando was rocked his last time out on Tuesday against Seattle, which hit him for six runs and eight hits in just 2 2/3 innings. However, he didn't factor in the decision of his team's 7-6 win that night.

Ogando has beaten the Angels twice already this season and has allowed just one earned run in 22 innings against them.

The Rangers took advantage of the Angels' woes this weekend and increased their lead atop the division, as they swept a three-game set from the Oakland Athletics. Texas allowed Oakland to come back from a six-run deficit on Sunday, before pulling out a 7-6 win.

David Murphy's RBI single in the ninth was the difference, while Nelson Cruz and Yorvit Torrealba finished with two hits apiece for the Rangers, who extended their road winning streak to four.

Mike Adams (1-1) worked a scoreless eighth inning to earn the win and Neftali Feliz tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down his 23rd save of the year.

Los Angeles has won five of its nine meetings with the Rangers this season.