Rangers rock another top Halos hurler

Milestone win awaits another day

ANAHEIM -- For the second night in a row, the Angels saw a final tuneup before the postseason go awry.

One night after John Lackey allowed a career-worst 10 runs in just 2 2/3 innings, Ervin Santana allowed a season-worst eight runs in the Angels' 8-4 loss to the Rangers at Angel Stadium on Saturday.

But Angels manager Mike Scioscia isn't worried that the poor outings will translate into similar results against the Red Sox when the Division Series begins Wednesday. Nevertheless, Scioscia said he's not happy with the Angels' back-to-back blowout losses to the Rangers -- even though they were meaningless to the standings.

"You never like to lose," Scioscia said. "It's not pleasant when you're not playing well and teams are taking it to you, but in the bigger picture there are some things that need to be done, like keeping these guys sharp."

Santana wasn't exactly sharp, though, as the right-hander was knocked around for eight runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. But Santana didn't place the blame on trying to work on different pitches or scenarios to ready himself for the postseason.

"I was trying to locate my fastball and offspeed [pitches], but I got beat," Santana said. "This one counts, every start counts. But I'm still happy and have confidence into next week."

Santana will have that confidence because he still finished the regular season with a 16-7 record to accompany a 3.49 ERA.

One bright note to Santana's outing was that he struck out five batters to reach 214 strikeouts on the season. That makes up the most strikeouts by an Angels pitcher since Chuck Finley struck out 215 in 1996, and the most by a right-handed Angel since Nolan Ryan struck out 223 in '79.

One of the keys to Santana's success this season, according to the Dominican-born pitcher, is that he forgets about every start whether it's good or bad.

"Even if I won, lost or gave up 20 runs, I never think about yesterday," Santana said. "I think of the future."

Santana struggled early in the game, as he allowed back-to-back home runs to Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis in the second inning -- much to the displeasure of the sellout crowd of 43,141. Cruz's homer drove in two runs, and Davis followed with a shot on the first pitch he saw from Santana.

"The couple of mistakes he made were because they've got a lot of power in their lineup and are swinging the bats well right now," Scioscia said. "His stuff was good and where it needs to be.

Texas added another run in the third inning on a run-scoring double by Hank Blalock before Santana settled down until. Santana ran into trouble in the sixth, however, on an RBI triple by Joaquin Arias with two outs before hitting a batter and allowing an RBI single to Michael Young.

Santana the was replaced by Kevin Jepsen, who allowed two runs to score on a single by Josh Hamilton before getting out of the inning via a Blalock groundout.

Lackey and Santana have combined to allow 18 earned runs over 8 1/3 innings in the two games, and the bullpen has allowed just two runs over 9 2/3 innings against the Rangers so far in the series.

"There's no doubt they're tough pitchers," Blalock said of Lackey and Santana. "To do what we've done is pretty exciting."

The Angels' offense, however, never got going. It scored a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Mark Teixeira, but Los Angeles didn't score again until the sixth inning -- when a fielder's choice groundout by Kendry Morales scored Reggie Willits from third base.

The Angels threatened again in the seventh by loading the bases, but they scored just one run on a groundout by Matthew Brown. They added their final run in the ninth on a run-scoring groundout by Bobby Wilson, which was his first RBI.

Much like Friday's game, the Angels took out several regulars during the game, including Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Garret Anderson, Teixeira, Erick Aybar, Jeff Mathis and Chone Figgins.

The Angels also used Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth inning to get the closer some work before the postseason. The right-hander retired all three batters he faced and struck out one.

The Angels still have one last chance to reach 100 wins for the first time in franchise history on Sunday in the season finale against the Rangers. If the Angels win, they will become the first team since the 1999 Indians to win a division by more than 20 games. But it's something the Angels aren't focusing on.

"There's nothing really left to accomplish in our regular season," Scioscia said. "If we get to our 100th win, it's great, but if we don't, we accomplished what we need in the regular season."

Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.