August 3, 2011

Rangers can't halt slide, lose 5-4 to Detroit

Texas rallies to tie, but the bullpen blows another game.

DETROIT -- Ian Kinsler sat at his locker and talked about the inevitability of going through rough stretches over the course of a 162-game season.

His frustration had shown through an hour earlier on the field when his slump grew to 1 for 30 over his last seven games, grabbing his bat after flying out to left field in the seventh inning.

Kinsler, along with the rest of the Rangers, didn't know what else to say after falling 5-4 to the Tigers on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.

The Rangers (61-50) have dropped three straight and nine of their past 14 since a 12-game winning streak in July. Their lead in the American League West dropped to a half-game over the Los Angeles Angels, who played late Wednesday.

"We need to continue to battle and get back on track, there's not much else to say," Kinsler said. "There's nothing really to say about my offense. The more important thing is our team getting back on track.... Hopefully when I get back on track, the team will get back on track."

Getting back on track will require more sound fundamentals from the Rangers. Manager Ron Washington stressed that before, but Elvis Andrus had a throwing error in the first inning. In the second, the Rangers failed to score with runners on the corners and no outs.

"You've got to be able to execute," Washington said afterward.

Starter Matt Harrison gave the Rangers a chance even though he struggled with command of his fastball. Harrison allowed the leadoff man to reach in the first five innings, but kept his team in the game.

The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the second on RBI singles by Ryan Raburn and Alex Avila, and then made it 3-0 in the third with an RBI double by Miguel Cabrera.

Texas clawed its way back with two runs in the fourth off Detroit starter Doug Fister, making his first start for the Tigers since being traded from the Mariners. Nelson Cruz had an RBI double off the right-field wall and then scored on a two-out error.

Detroit had a chance to break it open in the bottom half of the fourth. It put runners at second and third with one out, but Harrison escaped by getting a strikeout, walk and flyout.

The Rangers tied it at 3-3 in the fifth with more help from the Tigers. Yorvit Torrealba scored after the Tigers had a throw to first go offline on what appeared to be an inning-ending double play ball by Josh Hamilton.

Harrison couldn't keep it tied, though. He gave up a solo home run to Avila on a changeup with two outs in the sixth.

"I felt good in the sixth, just as strong as I did in the first inning," Harrison said. "I threw the pitch I wanted, and he put a good swing on it."

Harrison (9-8) ended up going six innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

"He didn't make the pitch to Avila," Washington said. "Other than that, I thought Harry did a heck of a job. He was tough out there."

Detroit cushioned its lead to 5-3 when Raburn went deep off Koji Uehara with two outs in the eighth.

The Rangers tried to mount a comeback in the ninth off Tigers closer Jose Valverde. Mike Napoli homered for the second consecutive night to pull the Rangers within 5-4, but Valverde retired David Murphy and Torrealba to end the game.

"We put up as many hits as they put up, but they got two two-out home runs late," Washington said. "Our offense was good enough to win again. We just couldn't do it."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

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