ANAHEIM, Calif. — Another late-inning loss in the final weeks of a lost season came with a silver lining for the injury-riddled Los Angeles Angels.
Tyler Skaggs is looking good on the mound, and he thinks he’s getting stronger.
Adrian Beltre broke a tie with his 440th home run in the eighth, and Yu Darvish pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning of the Texas Rangers’ second win in six games, 2-1 over the Angels on Friday night.
Andrelton Simmons drilled a tying triple in the seventh for the Angels, who have lost three straight.
But before the late fireworks, Darvish and Skaggs traded zeros for the first six innings in the opener of Los Angeles’ 10-game homestand.
Skaggs had one of his best starts since his return to the majors from Tommy John surgery, giving up two hits and two walks over six scoreless innings. The left-hander struck out eight and allowed just one runner to reach third base.
“I’ve been out for so long, so this is kind of the middle of the season for me,” Skaggs said. “I need to get up to 100 pitches (and) seven or eight innings. I need to stop throwing as many pitches as I do. But there’s progress.”
Darvish also bounced back sharply from a rough start last week, limiting the Angels to two singles in the first six innings while striking out nine.
“When I was warming up, I wasn’t feeling good,” Darvish said. “When I got deeper into the game, I was able to make adjustments. I’m very happy about that.”
Mitch Moreland doubled and scored on Elvis Andrus’ seventh-inning single to break open a scoreless game for the Rangers, who boosted their AL West lead to 9 1/2 games over Houston.
After the Angels tied it, Beltre connected for his 27th homer off J.C. Ramirez (1-1), sending a line drive over the fence in left-center.
“I was looking for a pitch I could drive, and that was exactly what I got,” Beltre said. “It was pretty much middle.”
Beltre’s homer was his 38th against Los Angeles, the sixth-most by an Angels opponent. Only Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro have more RBIs at Angel Stadium as an opponent than Beltre’s 69.
Matt Bush (7-2) struck out Jett Bandy to strand Simmons on third. Sam Dyson pitched the ninth for his 33rd save, giving up a leadoff single to Mike Trout before retiring Simmons on a groundout with two Angels on base.
Texas finally broke through against Mike Morin in the seventh, but only because Angels fill-in left fielder Jefry Marte took an unadvisable route on Moreland’s leadoff fly and allowed an apparently catchable ball to land for a double.
Simmons evened it moments later with an exceptional nine-pitch at-bat. He battled out of an 0-2 count before sending Darvish’s 95th and final pitch to the wall in right-center for a triple, scoring Marte from first.
Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor left the game with hamstring tightness. Texas manager Jeff Banister called the move precautionary, and said he hasn’t decided whether to rest Odor on Saturday. … OF Shin-Soo Choo made the trip for Texas, taking batting practice Friday. His left arm was broken by a pitch last month.
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards could throw off a mound within two weeks. The Angels’ former ace hasn’t pitched since May, when an injured elbow ligament was discovered. He has managed to avoid Tommy John surgery so far.
Rangers: Cole Hamels (14-5, 3.25 ERA) has given up 13 runs in his last two starts, raising his ERA from 2.67.
Angels: Daniel Wright makes his debut with the club. Los Angeles claimed the right-hander off waivers from Cincinnati last Sunday. He went 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA for the Reds this season, his first in the big leagues.