ANAHEIM -- It's not the way the Angels wanted to start a crucial four-game series against the Texas Rangers.With Garrett Richards leaving Monday's opener after two-thirds of an inning because of a right groin strain, a patchwork of pitchers couldn't get the job done, and the Angels lost, 8-4, at Angel Stadium. The loss moved the Halos five games back of the Rangers in the American League West. "We have 40 games left in the season," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We need to play good baseball. We can't focus on catching one team. The challenge is very clear, it's in front of us. We have to play consistently every night." Bobby Cassevah, Hisanori Takahashi, Rich Thompson and Joel Pineiro bore the brunt of the innings after Richards exited. In 8 1/3 innings, the bullpen combined to give up seven runs on nine hits. A sloppy fifth inning by the Angels led to six Rangers runs and was the Halos' ultimate undoing. With Mitch Moreland and Ian Kinsler getting back-to-back singles to lead off the fifth against Takahashi, Elvis Andrus tapped a bunt down the third-base line, only to have Takahashi overthrow third, scoring Moreland. After that, a single by Michael Young plated Kinsler and Andrus and chased Takahashi. "He was trying to make an aggressive play and make something happen," catcher Bobby Wilson said. "It just didn't work out." Thompson then gave up back-to-back home runs, a two-run shot to Nelson Cruz and another to Mike Napoli, to hand the Rangers a commanding 8-1 lead. "It's very important to win the first game, but you can't live off what you did before," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It's what have you done lately. We have to come back and play a good game tomorrow." Before Cassevah replaced Richards, the right-hander gave up an unearned run. Richards surrendered a leadoff double to Kinsler, before a throwing error by Wilson put him on third with none out. Andrus then grounded out to short, allowing Kinsler to score from third and give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Scioscia and an Angels trainer then came out to the mound with two outs in the first inning when Richards winced after throwing a 1-2 pitch to Cruz that was hit foul. In only his second Major League start, Richards said the discomfort "just kind of came on" as he was pitching to Cruz. "His stuff looked great," Scioscia said. "If he gets out of that first inning, who knows how far it goes. ... He had a tighter slider. It's disappointing not seeing that play out." The Angels fought back with a run of their own in the second, after a single by Torii Hunter and a double down the right-field line by Vernon Wells tied the score at 1. Doubles by Kinsler and Hamilton off Cassevah plated another Rangers run in the third. "He's been quietly throwing the ball very well for us and he's got some big outs in some tough situations," Scioscia said of Cassevah. "He had a good sinker. "He gave up a hit to Kinsler and then outside of it, he kept us in the game and gave us as much length as possible." A single by Erick Aybar and double by Maicer Izturis in the fifth scored a run and a two-run pinch-hit home run by Russell Branyan in the seventh cut the Rangers lead to 8-4. His second pinch-hit home run in his last three games, Branyan's last four hits have been three home runs and a double. It was one of the few bright sports for an Angels team that took some big hits Monday night. "Right now, we need guys to give us a chance to win and guys in the box supporting some good pitching with some offense," Scioscia said. "That has to be our focus and what we keep driving towards. "We'll come out tomorrow and hopefully win that first pitch and second and keep going to get a win."
Quinn Roberts is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.