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LAA@TEX: Hunter's grounder plates Bourjos early

ARLINGTON -- Erick Aybar had a shot at a cycle on Sunday, but the Rangers wouldn't even let him get on the bike. They walked him intentionally in his final at-bat, leaving him a triple shy.

"The way it goes," Aybar mused in a quiet Angels clubhouse. "It wasn't our day."

The Angels stranded 11 runners and watched the Rangers rally in the eighth inning to claim a 5-4 decision in front of 48,284 at Rangers Ballpark, taking the three-game series.

With a homer, double and single, Aybar carried the Angels' offense, raising his average to .351. He didn't get enough help, as the rest of the lineup went 5-for-30 against C.J. Wilson and three relievers.

"I don't know if it got away," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We didn't play our best ballgame. With guys in scoring position, they made some good pitches and really minimized the damage. We had opportunities."

The Angels were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Their American League West lead was shaved to a half-game by Texas, which evened the season series at three games apiece.

Replacing starter Ervin Santana, Rich Thompson walked Adrian Beltre leading off the eighth -- the first time in 14 appearances the first batter faced by the Aussie has reached base.

Thompson followed with a walk of David Murphy. With two strikes, Mike Napoli tried to check his swing and punched a ball over second baseman Alexi Amarista's head to load the bases.

In came Hisanori Takahashi, and Chris Davis stroked a two-strike single to right, scoring Beltre.

"I kind of put myself in a hole," Davis said, "and I had to hit a pitch that was out of the strike zone."

On a suicide-squeeze attempt, Takahashi handled Craig Gentry's bunt for an out at home. After Endy Chavez popped out, Kevin Jepsen was summoned to face Elvis Andrus, whose drive to deep left center was run down by Howard Kendrick.

The game ended with Kendrick, having walked, thrown out by Napoli, the former Angels catcher, as Alberto Callaspo struck out against closer Neftali Feliz. The save was Feliz's eighth in eight opportunities.

"I don't know where it was," Callaspo said of the high fastball he missed on a full count. "He's tough to hit."

The third toughest hitter in the league to strike out coming into the game, Callaspo's whiff left Kendrick in what he called "no-man's land" on the run-and-hit play.

"You're looking for contact or ball four," Scioscia said. "Alberto's really good in those situations. He just expanded his zone."

Kendrick had hit the ball sharply four times, with one hit, before walking ahead of Callaspo.

"[Feliz] was slide-stepping and throwing 96, 97 [mph] in and out of the zone," Kendrick said. "Callaspo's a guy who doesn't strike out much. He swung through a high fastball, and at the point I was, I couldn't stop and go back."

The win went to Mark Lowe (1-0) after Wilson lasted five-plus innings and Brett Tomko recorded eight outs in relief. Thompson, the Angels' most consistent reliever this season, slipped to 1-2 with the loss.

The Angels were unable to capitalize on Amarista's one-out, 400-foot triple in the eighth against Tomko. Peter Bourjos grounded sharply to third and Amarista was out in a rundown, Bourjos taking second. After Aybar was walked intentionally, Lowe retired Maicer Izturis on a first-pitch popup.

The Angels were three runs down in the fifth when Aybar lifted a 406-foot homer to center, his second of the series and season.

"That's the first one I've hit to center [in the Major Leagues] -- and I don't know how I hit it that far on a changeup," Aybar said.

In the sixth, singles by Callaspo and Mark Trumbo signaled the end of Wilson's day.

"He got in trouble early and he threw a lot of pitches," Texas manager Ron Washington said of his ace. "It caught up with him in the fifth inning. Those guys battled and made him throw some pitches."

After Beltre bobbled Jeff Mathis' sacrifice bunt to load the bases, Tomko struck out pinch-hitter Bobby Abreu and retired Bourjos on a shallow fly ball to center.

Aybar fell behind, 1-2, in the count and lined a two-run single to right, tying the game. Tomko left two men stranded by retiring Izturis.

The Angels took a first-inning lead. Bourjos walked leading off and took third on Aybar's hustle double to left center, beating the throw with a headfirst slide. With one out, Torii Hunter's grounder scored Bourjos.

The Rangers left the bases loaded in the first inning but seized the lead in the third on Beltre's three-run blast following singles by Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler. It was Beltre's 10th homer of the season.

"It was the right pitch, but not a good location," Santana said. "A fastball middle in, [when] it was supposed to be inside. He usually doesn't like it there. Most of his power is to right center, like Napoli."

Davis' second homer of the season made it 4-1 in the fourth.

"That one was a good pitch, a fastball down and away," Santana said. "He was looking for it."

Kinsler's fourth hit, a two-out infield single following another infield hit by Andrus, had Texas in position to seize the lead in the seventh. But Santana struck out Michael Young to quell the disturbance.

"I felt good, and my stuff was very good," Santana said. "I'm not happy because we didn't get the win, but I did the best I could to keep the score tight." Comments