ARLINGTON – The Texas Rangers still haven’t clinched a postseason berth.
They were on the cusp Sunday afternoon with a 4-3 lead over the Angels in the ninth inning and Joe Nathan coming in. But Nathan gave up a two-out, two-run double to Torii Hunter and the Angels held on for a 5-4 victory.
It was Nathan’s second blown save this month, along with Sept. 13 against Cleveland.
With a 4-3 lead in the ninth, Nathan retired Mark Trumbo but then gave up a one-out single to Maicer Izturis and walked Chris Iannetta. Nathan came through with a clutch strike out of MVP candidate Mike Trout for the second out, but Hunter ripped a two-run double to left-center field.
The Rangers went down in order against Angels closer Ernesto Frieri in the bottom of the ninth.
With the loss, the Rangers can only clinch a postseason berth with a victory in Game 2 of today’s doubleheader. There was a chance they could clinch the American League West today, but the division will be decided in their upcoming three-game series at Oakland. There magic number holds at three with four to play.
Yu Darvish pitched well for the Rangers in Game 1, allowing three runs on nine hits with one walk and seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. And he pitched with the lead all day.
The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the second on a two-run homer by Nelson Cruz. The Angels scored a run in the top of the third, but the Rangers scored two in the bottom half on two-out RBI hits by Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre for a 4-1 lead.
The Angels then scored a run in the sixth on an sacrifice fly by Kendrys Morales and another run in the seventh on a solo homer by Trout.
After giving up a two-out double to Hunter in the seventh, Darvish exited the game. With Angels slugger Albert Pujols due up, Rangers manager Ron Washington brought on Alexi Ogando.
Ogando retired Pujols in a six-pitch at-bat, getting him to ground out on a 98 mph fastball.
Ogando worked a perfect eighth, which was started when Beltre made a dazzling diving stop and throw on a sharp grounder by Morales.
But the Angels rallied for their first lead -- and made it stand -- in the ninth.
Derek Holland will start Game 2 for the Rangers, while Ervin Santana goes for the Angels.
-- Drew Davison