ARLINGTON, Texas — Nick Martinez pitched better than his record would indicate.
But in this lost season for last-place Texas, better still wasn't good enough for the Rangers in a 7-3 loss to the streaking Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
Erick Aybar hit a two-run home run in the second inning, and eight pitchers combined to allow the Rangers only seven hits in Los Angeles' eighth straight win.
"I think Martinez is going straight upward," Rangers interim manager Tim Bogar said. "He made a couple of bad pitches in some big situations, but for the most part pretty strong.
"Nick Martinez kind of made another step toward proving that he deserves a chance (next season)."
Martinez (3-11) held the team with the major leagues' best record to four hits, a walk and two earned runs in six innings. In his last three starts, the right-handed rookie is 0-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 17 1-3 innings.
"I'm just trying to finish strong and come to spring training a better pitcher than I was this year," he said. "Some nights, four runs (allowed) isn't going to cut it."
That is especially true because Texas has totaled only 24 runs in losing 11 of its last 12 games.
Los Angeles won for the 14th time in 16 games and moved 10 games ahead of second-place Oakland in the American League West with 16 games to play.
Texas' lead lasted only until Aybar's homer against Martinez in the next inning put the Angels ahead to stay. The shortstop entered the game batting .383 (36 for 94) since Aug. 16, best in the AL during that span.
"The biggest out of the game was Morin getting Andrus to squelch that rally," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
J.P. Arencibia also had a solo homer for the Rangers.
Texas actually slowed down the Angels, who averaged nine runs over the first seven games of the winning streak.
The Rangers have lost five of six under Bogar to fall 37 games behind Los Angeles in the division.
Rougned Odor's RBI single in the eighth closed the scoring.
Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos (stiff neck) missed his 10th straight game, but did warm up Texas' pitcher before one inning. Bogar said he expected Chirinos to play on Friday.
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.
Each team opens a three-game series at home Friday night.
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.
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.
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.
FLICKERING POWER SOURCE
Arencibia was 5 for 56 over his last 19 games before his homer, his first since Aug. 8. He leads the Rangers with eight homers and 26 RBIs since the All-Star break.
As part of the Rangers' pregame Sept. 11 commemoration, bench coach Bobby Jones had an award ceremony to present the bronze medal he earned as an Army corporal in Vietnam 43 years ago.