Sosa hitless as Rangers lose opener

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- John Lackey threw a ton of pitches, allowed a bunch of baserunners -- and got out of plenty of trouble.

"It was a grind. I did just enough to get it done," Lackey said after allowing one unearned run over his five innings of the Los Angeles Angels' season-opening 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.

Lackey (1-0) threw 96 pitches, walked four and gave up four hits -- including Ian Kinsler's homer after catcher Mike Napoli dropped Kinsler's foul pop for an error. The right-hander struck out five and stranded runners on third base four times.

"He made the pitches when he needed to," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said.

The Angels' victory spoiled Ron Washington's major league managerial debut. The Rangers squandered a string of opportunities, going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

"Leaving runners out there is always a key to a loss," Washington said. "But many of those opportunities were with two outs, and two-out knocks are not easy to get.

"So if we can keep getting them out there like we did tonight, I'll take our chances. And if we keep getting pitching like we did tonight, I know we're going to be fine."

A longtime Oakland coach, Washington took the Texas job over the winter after Buck Showalter was fired.

Former Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa, back after taking a year off, went 0-for-3 for the Rangers, struck out once and did not hit a ball out of the infield.

Asked about being back, Sosa said, "I have another opportunity, and the reason why I'm here is that I still can play."

Sosa said Lackey "pitched me great."

"I saw so many pitches tonight, but the guy didn't make any mistakes," Sosa said. "I was fighting and battling, but I got nothing to hit."

Gary Matthews Jr., signed to a five-year, $50 million deal by Los Angeles after having a career season last year with the Rangers, made a leaping catch in center to end a Texas threat in the top of the first inning, then scored the Angels' first run in their half of the inning.

Scot Shields and Justin Speier combined for three scoreless innings for Los Angeles, and Francisco Rodriguez -- whose franchise-record 47 saves led the majors last year -- pitched a perfect ninth to earn the save.

"That's kind of the way we draw it up; have the starter hold them to one and we come out and do our job," Shields said.

Kevin Millwood (0-1) allowed three runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out five.

The 38-year-old Sosa, fifth on the career list with 588 home runs and the only player to have three 60-homer seasons, signed with the Rangers after sitting out 2006 to, he said, "recharge my battery." He hit .221 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs in 102 games for Baltimore in 2005.

Matthews made a leaping grab of Mark Teixeira's drive high on the fence in center for the third out with a runner on third, with the sellout crowd roaring its approval. Then, leading off the game for the Angels, he walked and scored on Vladimir Guerrero's double.

But in the third, Matthews dropped Michael Young's routine fly to right-center for a two-base error, and there was scattered booing.

Casey Kotchman, limited to 29 games last season because of fatigue from mononucleosis, led off the second inning with a homer -- the same number he totaled in 2006.

"I'm healthy now. It's just great and I feel privileged to be here," he said.

The Angels added runs on Maicer Izturis' RBI single in the fifth, and Shea Hillenbrand's run-scoring single in the eighth.

Notes

When Rangers CF Kenny Lofton stole second in the first inning, it was the 600th of his career. He ranks 17th on the career list behind George Davis, who had 616 steals. ... Troy Percival, the Angels' career saves leader, signed a one-day contract so than he could retire as an Angel. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch after running from the bullpen to the mound, and after the ball slammed into C Jose Molina's glove, the video board flashed "Radar Gun: 101 mph." ... Angels RHP Bartolo Colon, working his way back from a shoulder injury, is scheduled to make a rehab start Thursday night for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. RHP Jered Washburn, recovering from tendinitis in his right forearm, is scheduled to start for the same team on Friday.


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