After Lackey's first pitch sailed behind Ian Kinsler's head and the next one hit Texas' leadoff batter in the ribs, home plate umpire Bob Davidson immediately ejected the pitcher.
"It was interesting," Kinsler said after the AL West-leading Rangers won 5-3 for their sixth straight victory Saturday.
"I haven't pitched in six weeks. I was obviously trying to come in on him but there was no intention to hit him or to come in behind him," Lackey said. "It was definitely surprising."
Kinsler jogged to first base without incident after getting plunked.
But Davidson tossed Lackey, who raised his arms and stood near the mound with a look of disbelief on his face. Manager Mike Scioscia argued at length with Davidson and crew chief Tim Tschida to no avail, though he wasn't ejected.
"He hasn't thrown in two months," Scoscia said. "It looked bad, but John's trying to make sure the two-seamer is in."
Still, Tschida said the second pitch was too much for umpires to overlook after Friday night, when Kinsler homered twice.
"When the first pitch of the next game to that hitter is behind him, that's a red flag," Tschida said. "We gave [Lackey] the benefit of the doubt because maybe he was a little amped up coming off the DL. When he hit him with the second pitch, that was something else."
Both benches were issued warnings, though there were no more incidents.
Kinsler stole second and scored on the first of Josh Hamilton's two sacrifice flys. Texas went ahead to stay on Michael Young's tiebreaking RBI single in the fourth just before Hamilton's other run-producing flyball made it 5-3.
Texas (22-14) has won 12 of 14 and leads the Angels by 3½ games in the AL West. The Rangers are eight games over .500 for the first time since June 2005.
Lackey, who missed the first first six weeks of the season because of a forearm strain, said he wasn't even thinking about a tension-filled series between the two teams three years ago that included a benches-clearing brawl.
Scioscia, former Rangers manager Buck Showalter and six others, including Padilla, were suspended after two days of trouble in that August 2006 series. Lackey was fined, but not suspended after coming out of the dugout in a game he didn't pitch.
"I'd go straight to the source if I was going to do something," Lackey said. "I'd tell you I was going to do something, I'd tell you if I did it, I'd stand up and own up to it. I did not try to throw at [Kinsler]. I hadn't pitched in six weeks. The last thing I wanted to do was come out of the game early."
Shane Loux (2-3), who threw 30 pitches over two innings and gave up a 460-foot homer to Hamilton on Friday night, replaced Lackey and allowed four runs over 3 1/3 innings.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia's two-run single in the second made it 3-1. After the Angels got even on RBI singles by Juan Rivera and Figgins in the fourth, the Rangers got those runs back in the bottom of the inning.
Padilla had allowed one hit in each of his previous two starts, the first Texas pitcher to accomplish that, even though he wound up with a no-decision in one of those. The right-hander allowed 10 singles against the Angels.
Lackey is the first starter in the majors to throw only two pitches in a game since Colorado's Zach Day on Sept. 16, 2005. Day was knocked out of that game at Arizona when a line drive broke his right thumb.
- The start of the game was delayed 76 minutes by rain.
- Figgins entered the series in a 2-for-23 slump. He is since 6-for-9, including three hits Saturday. He almost had four hits, but 1B Chris Davis made a full extension to scoop Kinsler's throw for the final out of the game.