ANAHEIM, California — Joe Smith had one of those nightmarish innings that can happen when the other team stays patient, has good at-bats and puts the ball in play.
The Los Angeles Angels' right-hander made what he felt were the right pitches — and they just ended up in the wrong places.
Delino DeShields capped a three-run rally in the eighth with an infield hit that drove in the go-ahead run, and the Texas Rangers beat the Angels 7-6 on Saturday night. The loss was the Halos' third in a row after seven straight wins, and kept them in a virtual tie with Houston for the AL West lead.
"It was a weird inning. A lot of groundballs and some not right at people," Smith said. "I'm a groundball pitcher, that's no secret. If they don't go right at people, or sometimes you chop 'em off the plate ... it's kind of one of those innings I've just got to forget about. ... If I was getting hit all over the yard or balls off the wall or something, I'd be worried, but I got the groundballs I wanted."
Smith (4-3) came on to help protect a 6-4 lead for Angels starter Hector Santiago, but didn't make it out of the eighth. Elvis Andrus raced home from third as Shin-Soo Choo grounded to first baseman Albert Pujols for a force at second, Robinson Chirinos singled home another run, and Josh Hamilton scored on DeShields' high chopper to third base.
"Joe's been really important to us in the bullpen and he's really done a great job, but it just got away tonight," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I thought Joe wasn't that far off."
Spencer Patton (1-0) earned his second big league victory with a hitless seventh inning. Struggling Tanner Scheppers pitched a hitless eighth and Shawn Tolleson got three outs for his 17th save in 18 attempts.
The Rangers narrowed the gap to 4-3 in the fourth with RBI doubles by Ryan Rua and Chirinos after a two-out walk to Choo, then tied it in the fifth with an unearned run.
Pujols fielded Andrus' checked-swing grounder wide of the bag and made a poor throw to shortstop Erick Aybar trying for the force. Rougned Odor, who drew a leadoff walk, scored from second on Pujols' fourth error of the season.
Santiago was charged with four runs — three earned — and five hits through five innings with four strikeouts and three walks. The first-time All-Star had won his previous three starts.
"Hector just didn't look as crisp from the get-go," Scioscia said. "It looked like he was trying to force a little bit to get some velocity, and his command wasn't quite where it needed to be. But he still battled."
Pujols led off the Angels' fifth with a double and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Aybar that chased starter Yovani Gallardo. Kole Calhoun, who had three RBIs, made it 6-4 in the sixth with an RBI single after a two-out triple by Johnny Giavotella.
Conor Gillaspie made his Angels debut at third base, one day after he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a cash deal. The Halos lost third baseman David Freese for approximately 6-8 weeks with a broken right index finger after he was hit by a pitch from Minnesota's Mike Pelfrey on Wednesday night.
"Conor looked relaxed, he looked good at the plate, hit the ball hard a couple of times and made some nice plays in the field," Scioscia said. "He's going to get an opportunity to play with David out, no doubt about that — and hopefully he'll be able to contribute and do some of the things you saw tonight."
BAYLOR LAUDS BIGGIO
Angels hitting coach Don Baylor held the major league record for getting hit by the most pitches in a career before Craig Biggio broke it. On Sunday, Biggio will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. "He was probably a lot smarter than I was because he used an arm pad, so he didn't take a lot of direct hits like I did. And I never saw him charge the mound because he knew he could steal a base," Baylor said. "He was one heckuva player. When I was a manager, I tried to get him to cross over from Houston to Colorado because I knew what type of player I was looking for — a leader on the field and in the clubhouse. He motivated a lot of guys just by the way he played, and he was a great inspiration for guys who weren't 6-foot-2."
Rangers: RHP Nick Martinez (5-5) is 0-3 with a 6.98 ERA in five starts since June 9, when he allowed one hit over six scoreless innings in a 2-1 win at Oakland.
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (4-0) brings a 1.57 ERA into his sixth start of the season. He has 27 strikeouts and just four walks in 34 1/3 innings this season, and has completed the seventh in each of his last four starts.