ANAHEIM, California — One day after receiving his 2014 AL MVP award in a home plate ceremony, Mike Trout gave another example of why he means so much to the Los Angeles Angels with a tying two-run homer in the seventh inning against Texas Rangers reliever Anthony Bass.
The Angels then took the lead in the eighth on Johnny Giavotella's bases-loaded RBI single, but Joe Smith blew the lead in the ninth, Jose Alvarez gave up two more in the 11th, and the Angels lost 5-4 on Sunday.
"Joe was throwing the ball well, but just couldn't get the last out," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We were very confident with Joe out there. He had an incredible run closing games for us last year. It just didn't happen today."
Smith got his first save opportunity of the season because Scioscia didn't want to use Huston Street a fourth consecutive day. The right-hander retired his first two batters before giving up three consecutive singles, including Mitch Moreland's RBI hit to right field.
"It's tough, but it's going to happen," Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun said. "We had Joe Smith on the mound, and that's our go-to guy. Everybody in the stadium wanted him on the mound. He gave up one today, but that's the way the game rolls sometimes."
Alvarez (0-1), working his second inning of relief, gave up a leadoff homer in the 11th to Leonys Martin on a full count after falling behind 3-0. It was Martin's first homer of the season and 16th in 1,121 big league at-bats. Another run scored that inning on shortstop Erick Aybar's second error of the game.
Aybar hit an RBI single in the bottom half, but the Angels' rally fell short as Rangers closer Neftali Feliz (1-1) threw a called third strike past Grant Green to end it. Feliz pitched two innings for the victory.
Hector Santiago, who departed from each of his previous two starts with a 10-1 lead, labored through this one. The lefty allowed two runs — one earned — and four hits through 5 1-3 innings. He had four strikeouts and six walks, matching his total from his first three starts this season combined.
"He got himself into trouble and he got himself out of trouble," Scioscia said. "Command was an issue today. His stuff looked good, but at times he had trouble with his release point and his pitch count went up quickly."
Over the Angels' last six games, their starting pitchers have allowed just six earned runs in 36 innings despite giving up 30 hits and 17 walks. This 5-1 stretch began last Tuesday with Santiago's six-inning stint against Oakland, when he gave up a run and three hits.
Santiago retired his first two batters in the second before giving up an unearned run. Aybar dropped a popup by Shin-Soo Choo after a single by Elvis Andrus, putting runners at the corners. Carlos Corporan walked on a full count, loading the bases, and No.9 hitter Rougned Odor was hit with a 2-0 pitch to force in the game's first run.
Rangers batters have been plunked a major league-leading 20 times, the most by any team through its first 18 games since at least 1914. Choo got clipped by Mike Morin in the eighth.
Santiago walked Jake Smolinski to open the Rangers' third, and Adrian Beltre hit a ground-rule double before Moreland delivered the Rangers' second run with a sacrifice fly. Two more walks loaded the bases again for Corporan, who struck out on a 3-2 pitch — Santiago's 72nd to that point.
Texas' Nick Martinez scattered seven hits over six scoreless innings and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third. The right-hander finished April with a 0.35 ERA, allowing one earned run in 26 innings. It broke the previous Texas club record for lowest ERA through the end of April by a pitcher with 25 or more innings, which was held by Rick Honeycutt with a 0.72 figure in 1983.
HISTORY ON THE HORIZON
Rangers: Before a herniated disc in his neck last year limited Prince Fielder to 42 games in his first season with the Rangers, he had missed only one of a combined 875 regular-season games by the Brewers and Tigers — and that was because of flu-like symptoms.
Rangers: RHP Yovani Gallardo opposes Seattle RHP Taijuan Walker on Monday night in the opener of an eight-game homestand that concludes with another three-game set against the Angels. The only other time Garrardo faced the Mariners in the regular season during his nine-year career was on April 17, when he pitched six scoreless innings in a 3-1 win at Safeco Field.
Angels: RHP Jered Weaver (0-2) is making his fifth attempt at his first victory of the season Tuesday night at Oakland in a rematch of his April 22 duel with Athletics RHP Sonny Gray, who beat the Halos 9-2 after Weaver allowed one run in six innings.