Angels' magic number still stuck at one

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- One has been the hardest number for the
Anaheim Angels.

The Angels once again failed to clinch a playoff spot, losing their third in a row as Ivan Rodriguez homered to give the Texas Rangers a 2-1 victory Tuesday night.

"The fact that it's so close, sometimes it's like a carrot dangling at you and some guys start to press,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Some guys are pressing a little bit.''

Anaheim remained 3 games behind Oakland in the AL West with its sixth loss in eight games. The Athletics, already assured a playoff berth, lost 8-7 at Seattle later Tuesday.

The Angels' magic number for wrapping up their first playoff
spot since 1986 remained at one. Boston stayed in contention with a
4-2 win at Chicago, while Seattle stayed alive with its victory.

"It's a balance,'' Scioscia said. "Some guys need to back off
a little bit because they're starting to press. Some guys are so
worried about pressing that they're trying to lay back a little bit
and are getting taken out of their game.''

Anaheim's clubhouse stayed closed longer than usual after the
game as Scioscia talked to his players.

"He just told us to play our game and be yourself,'' first baseman Scott Spiezio said. "The one thing is we haven't been stringing our hits together.''

The Angels left eight men on base, including two runners each in
three of the last five innings.

Rodriguez led off this sixth against Kevin Appier (14-12) with
his 18th homer for a 2-1 lead. That came right after Anaheim had
tied the game.

Rookie Joaquin Benoit (4-4) held Anaheim to just five hits over
seven innings.

Garret Anderson's 28th homer, a 392-foot shot into the upper
deck in right, made it 1-all with two outs in the top of the sixth.
But that was the only run the Angels managed against Benoit, who
struck out four and walked one.

Bengie Molina had a one-out double in the Angels seventh, and
pinch-runner Chone Figgins moved to third on a wild pitch. But
Benoit then struck out Adam Kennedy and David Eckstein -- the last
two batters he would face -- to get out of the inning.

"Joaquin used three pitches real well,'' Rangers manager Jerry
Narron said. "He worked out of a couple of jams, he was

Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his ninth save. Spiezio
led off with a single, but was caught stealing when pinch-hitter
Orlando Palmeiro swung and missed on a hit-and-run.

In the fifth, Troy Glaus had a leadoff walk and Spiezio singled
before Molina's sacrifice bunt. But Kennedy struck out and Eckstein
lined out.

The Angels again stranded two runners on in the eighth after center fielder Ruben Rivera missed Tim Salmon's flyball and pinch-hitter Shawn Wooten walked. Salmon flied out against Jay Powell, the third Texas pitcher in the inning, to end the threat.

Appier gave up two runs and seven hits over six innings. He struck out six and walked one.

"I threw good and I feel good about that, but I'm still mad because things didn't work out for us,'' Appier said. "It was a good outing, but still too much for us to overcome.''

Texas took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Kevin Mench's RBI single, a bouncer up the middle that bounded off the heel of Kennedy's glove as the second baseman made a sliding attempt to stop it. Before that, Rodriguez drew a one-out walk and Todd Hollandsworth stopped an 0-for-19 skid with a bloop single down the left-field line.

"The hits they got that one inning, you probably line them up and they wouldn't reach the center fielder,'' Scioscia said. "But we didn't get it done on the offensive side to support such a great effort by Appier.''

Angels center fielder Darin Erstad was charged with his first error in 245 games in the second inning. He had 458 chances in 139 games this season before a throwing error on a play involving two Texas rookies.

Erstad fielded Hank Blalock's two-out single as Mench went from first to third. Erstad's throw trying to get Mench skipped past Glaus at third, allowing Blalock an extra base.

Game notes
Erstad has just two errors in 885 chances (.998 fielding percentage) over his last 286 games. ... Appier is 0-3 in four
starts since winning five straight starts. ... Benoit was 0-2 with a seven-inning save (the longest in major league history) in five appearances since his last win, Aug. 25 at the New York Yankees. ... Mench was in a 2-for-29 slump before singles his first two at-bats. ... The Rangers, coming off a 1-9 trip, won their sixth straight home game and 13th of 16.