ANAHEIM -- On the bright side, John Lackey lasted more than two pitches in his rematch with the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night. In fact, the Angels' ace threw 105 more pitches than he did in his infamous two-and-out 2009 debut in Texas on May 16.
Not that the results were much better.
Lackey, who was ejected from that May 16 loss after throwing his first pitch up and in to Ian Kinsler and his second pitch behind Kinsler's head, failed to pick up a fifth-inning blitz and was sacked for six runs in an 8-5 loss to the Rangers at Angel Stadium.
What seemed like an innocuous hit -- Michael Young's two-out chopper over the mound that he beat out for an infield single -- sparked a six-run fifth-inning rally that helped push Texas back into a first-place tie with the Angels in the American League West.
Dodgers castoff Andruw Jones highlighted the outburst with a score-tying, three-run home run, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a two-run single on Lackey's 34th and final pitch of the inning.
"It went downhill pretty quick," said Lackey, who fell to 3-4. "At some point, you've got to stop it. You've got to make a pitch and get out of there somehow."
The Angels, whose winning streak was ended at three games, loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth and seventh innings but managed only one run to trim the deficit to 6-4.
The Rangers tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth to pull away, Kinsler hitting a run-scoring double and Young a sacrifice fly against right-hander Matt Palmer.
The Angels suffered another loss in the eighth when right fielder Vladimir Guerrero's left knee buckled while fielding Elvis Andrus' single toward the gap.
Guerrero, who was making only his second start of the season in the outfield -- a torn right chest muscle relegated the cleanup batter to designated hitter -- left the game and was diagnosed with a strained muscle behind the knee. He will be re-evaluated today.
"It's doubtful he'll be able to play [tonight]," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He was moving pretty well, he went over to cut off a ball in the gap, and the knee grabbed him a little bit. He said it got tight on him."
The Angels finally seemed to be getting healthy, at least on the offensive side, when Guerrero went down -- they've hit 38 home runs in their last 24 games, including two by Juan Rivera on Tuesday, are hitting .319 through six games on this homestand, and in his last five games, Guerrero had two homers and eight runs batted in.
But there is no need to panic, their top pitcher said.
"We're still in first place," Lackey said. "Let's not jump off a bridge."
Lackey cruised through the four innings, blanking the Rangers on four hits and striking out five, and the Angels staked the right-hander to a 3-0 lead with a run in the third inning and two in the fourth.
Erick Aybar reached on a bunt single to open the third, stole second and scored on Chone Figgins' single to right field, and Rivera led off the fourth with his 15th homer. Maicer Izturis doubled with one out, and Aybar hit a two-out, run-scoring single to make it 3-0.
But the lead was gone within a span of eight pitches in the fifth.
With two outs, Young beat out his chopper over the mound, Josh Hamilton singled to center field, and Jones drove Lackey's first pitch over the center-field wall for his 11th homer.
The Rangers weren't through. Hank Blalock lofted a double to left field, and Marlon Byrd and David Murphy walked to load the bases.
Blalock scored on a wild pitch to give Texas a 4-3 lead, and Saltalamacchia lined a two-run single to right field to make it 6-3.
When relievers Jason Jennings and C.J. Wilson escaped jams in the sixth and seventh innings, the Rangers were on their way to improving to 16-5 against AL West opponents and 6-2 against the Angels this season.
"Texas is playing good, and they've played well against us," Lackey said. "They still have a great lineup, and they're pitching better and playing better defense. That's definitely going to keep them around longer."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times