The surging Los Angeles Angels continue their pursuit of first-place Oakland in the American League West when they open a four-game series at the skidding Texas Rangers on Thursday. The Angels have won 15 of their last 19 and own the second-best record in the majors but still are looking up at the Athletics in the division race. Albert Pujols is on a tear for Los Angeles, going 12-for-25 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in his last six games.The Rangers are in a complete freefall, losing four straight and 10 of 11 games to give them the worst record in baseball by a percentage point. The Rangers are coming off a three-game home sweep at the hands of Houston, which had owned the league's worst record prior to outscoring Texas 28-14. The Rangers were at the .500 mark on June 16 but have stumbled to a 3-18 record since - a dismal stretch that includes getting swept by the Angels in a three-game set in Los Angeles.TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, MLBN, FSN West (Los Angeles), FSN Southwest (Texas) PITCHING MATCHUP: Angels LH Hector Santiago (0-7, 4.50 ERA) vs. Rangers RH Colby Lewis (6-5, 5.51)Santiago was ticketed for the bullpen but earned another start when Matt Shoemaker was forced to relieve an ailing Jered Weaver after two innings on Monday. Santiago was knocked around for five runs on six hits while striking out seven over five innings versus Houston on Saturday. He was charged with five runs and seven hits in six-plus frames of a loss to Texas on May 2 after blanking the Rangers for five innings.Lewis has put together consecutive quality starts for the first time this season, beating the New York Mets by permitting three runs (two earned) over six innings on Saturday. He also worked six frames in his previous turn versus Minnesota, settling for a no-decision despite allowing two runs and matching his season high with eight strikeouts. He won at Los Angeles on May 2 with 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball.WALK-OFFS1. Pujols hit his 512th homer Wednesday to tie Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews for 21st place on the all-time list.2. Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre has hit safely in 13 straight games.3. Angels OF Josh Hamilton was 12-for-36 in 10 games at Texas last year in his first season facing his former team.PREDICTION: Angels 6, Rangers 2
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