Aybar hits 2-run HR to lead Angels past Rangers 7-3 for 8th straight win



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ARLINGTON, Texas — When Garrett Richards went on the disabled list last month, the big question was who would replace him in the Los Angeles Angels rotation.

The answer: Almost everybody.

Eight Angels pitchers combined for a 7-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night, giving Los Angeles its eighth straight win.

The Angels lost three of their first five games after a torn left patellar tendon sidelined Richards — a 13-game winner — on Aug. 21.

But Los Angeles has won 14 of 16 and moved 10 games ahead of second-place Oakland in the American League West with 16 games to play.

Using relief pitchers, the Angels have won all three starts that Richards would have made.

"They keep getting it done," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "When you have a bullpen game, you see which way the game branches out. (Thursday), it took eight pitchers to get it done."

After starting the season with 24 relief appearances, right-hander Cory Rasmus has started all three bullpen games. Against the Rangers, in a career-high 3 1-3 innings, he allowed only a leadoff home run and a single to Leonys Martin.

"I felt it was another step forward," Rasmus said. "If you give up a home run to the first hitter of the game, you've got to move on, bear down and make some better pitches.

"Everybody feels pretty excited about our bullpen. You throw your inning or two innings and put up a zero, everybody does the same."

What does it mean that the Angels have won all three of his starts?

"It means we put up a lot of runs," he said.

Texas actually slowed down the Angels, who averaged nine runs over the first seven games of the winning streak.

Erick Aybar homered against Nick Martinez (3-11) in the second inning to put the Angels ahead 2-1. The shortstop entered the game batting .383 (36 for 94) since Aug. 16, best in the AL during that span.

David Freese had a two-run single in the third, and Kole Calhoun's RBI single in the seventh made it 5-1. Pinch-hitter Grant Green added a two-run single in the eighth.

Mike Morin (4-3), the fifth Los Angeles pitcher, got the win. He entered the game to retire Elvis Andrus with the bases loaded in the fourth and worked a scoreless fifth inning.

J.P. Arencibia also had a solo homer for the Rangers.

The Rangers have lost five of six under interim manager Tim Bogar, and 11 of their last 12 overall to fall 37 games behind Los Angeles in the division. During that stretch, Texas has totaled only 24 runs.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: LF Josh Hamilton (shoulder) missed his seventh game in a row, but said he was feeling better. "He's not really going to test it for a couple of days," Scioscia said. ... RHP Huston Street (right hamstring) hasn't pitched since Saturday.

Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos (stiff neck) missed his 10th straight game, but he warmed up Texas' pitcher before one inning. Bogar said he expected Chirinos to play Friday.

UP NEXT

Each team opens a three-game series at home Friday night.

Los Angeles LHP C.J. Wilson (11-9, 4.64) is scheduled to pitch against Houston. He is 1-2 with an 8.35 ERA in his first four 2014 starts vs. the Astros.

Rangers LHP Derek Holland (1-0, 0.64) will face Atlanta for the first time in his third start after missing the first five months following knee surgery.

WARNING SIGNAL

Home plate umpire Doug Eddings warned both benches after Los Angeles' Joe Smith hit Tomas Telis with a pitch in the ninth inning. Martinez had hit the Angels' Mike Trout in the third and fifth innings.

PUJOLS WITH 4 KS

Angels DH Albert Pujols struck out four times for the first time in his 2,102-game career.

BIG ROSTER

The Angels' active roster has 37 players, forcing six players to share three lockers in the visitors' clubhouse. Scioscia used 23 players on Thursday.

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