ANAHEIM -- Angels starter Ervin Santana was one pitch away from escaping a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the top of the eighth.
But Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler lifted Santana's career-high 129th pitch over Erick Aybar's outstretched glove in shallow left field for a two-run single to send the streaking Rangers to a 4-3 win Wednesday night at Angel Stadium.
Texas now holds a season-high seven-game lead over the Angels in the American League West as the Halos have lost three straight to the Rangers, five overall and seven of their last eight games.
The Angels had the tying run on third base with two outs in the ninth, but Rangers closer Neftali Feliz got Aybar to weakly pop out to shallow right field to end the game.
It appears as though the Angels' playoff hopes are now on life support after they failed to gain a game on the Rangers with Santana on the mound, who had won his previous five starts. But Angels manager Mike Scioscia refused to air any sense of desperation after the game.
"Nothing deflating about it, it's a loss," Scioscia said. "We've got a ballgame tomorrow. Obviously, the longer it takes to start stringing together a streak and stringing together wins the tougher it is to accomplish this, but this is doable. We have to get into our game, and if it's not going to happen it's going to be really rough. If it happens we have a challenge in front of us."
The Angels will send ace Jered Weaver and his 2.13 ERA to the mound Thursday to try to avoid an eight-game hole with just 37 games left after the series finale.
The Rangers, winners of 11 of their last 13, gave no indication that they're starting to eye their second straight division title.
"It's still early," outfielder Nelson Cruz said. "We're not going to get comfortable. We've got to keep playing. Hopefully, we get a chance to sweep the series."
But it was clear in the silent Angels clubhouse that this particular loss stung. Santana had been sensational in previous five outings in posting a 0.84 ERA, and it was a broken-bat blooper from Kinsler that broke the eighth-inning tie and sent Santana to his first loss since June 21.
"It was a great pitch [a slider low and away], and broken-bat base hit," said Santana, who was charged with three earned runs on 10 hits in 7 2/3 innings. "There's nothing you can do about that. ... It's frustrating because it doesn't happen a lot. And that kind of situation where it's tie ballgame late in the game, it hurts."
After falling behind early in each of the first two games of the series, the Angels turned the tables on the Rangers with two runs in the bottom of the first to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
Peter Bourjos lined a 2-1 fastball into the left-center-field gap and sprinted into third base for his ninth triple, tying him with New York's Curtis Granderson for the AL lead. Bourjos scored on Howard Kendrick's groundout, and Elvis Andrus' throwing error extended the inning for first baseman Mark Trumbo.
Trumbo then sent a towering shot off the top of the wall in right field for an RBI double. After the play, Scioscia and Rangers manager Ron Washington raced onto the field in a rare moment of two opposing skippers arguing separate things on the same play.
Washington unsuccessfully argued that Torii Hunter was out at home plate as Scioscia pleaded his case to second-base umpire Adrian Johnson that Trumbo's hit was actually a home run. After briefly consulting instant replay, home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth confirmed that Trumbo's hit had not cleared the fence.
That turned into a big moment in the game as the Angels' bats soon fell silent. The Halos mustered just three singles over the next six innings and failed to move a runner past first base against Texas starter C.J. Wilson, who limited the Angels to one earned run on five hits in seven innings.
"I think offensively we're still trying to find that light switch," Scioscia said. "We've shown we're capable of winning with some offense."
That level of production has been par for the course for Los Angeles since the All-Star break and is one of the main reasons the club has fallen in danger of dropping out of the AL West race. The Angels entered Wednesday's game hitting .222 as a team since the Midsummer Classic.
Santana did his best to make the most out of his two-run lead through the first four innings -- wiggling his way out of jams in the each of the first three frames -- but the depth of the Rangers' lineup caught up to him in the fifth.
A throwing error from Aybar put Andrus on second with one out, and Josh Hamilton's RBI single sliced the Rangers' deficit in half. Mitch Moreland's 14th home run tied the score at 2 in the top of the sixth.
"After you get up two and Ervin is putting up some zeros is where you definitely want to add to that and try to get a little bit of a comfort zone," Scioscia said. "We weren't able to do that. The game came down to a break and we didn't get it."
David Ely is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.