August 25, 2011

Red Sox rip Rangers again, West lead cut to 2

Texas loses the final three games of the series by a combined 30-7.

ARLINGTON -- If the past three games were a playoff preview, the Texas Rangers had better hope that Boston wins the American League East.

That, of course, assumes the Rangers are able to hang on in the AL West, earn the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and host the wild-card team, which as of Thursday night looks like anything but a certainty.

Adrian Gonzalez hit two of the four homers Alexi Ogando allowed in only four innings, and the Rangers had only three hits in 6 1/3 innings against Andrew Miller as the Red Sox rolled to a 6-0 win.

The Rangers have lost three straight games and were outscored 30-7 in them. They also have dropped five of their past six as their lead in the AL West has shrunk to two games.

"They whipped our butt for three days," manager Ron Washington said. "We couldn't pitch to stop them, and we couldn't get anything going offensively. You play 162 games, and you hope games like this get spread out."

The silver lining is that the Rangers continue to hold down first place, where they've been by themselves since July 6.

But they just finished playing three of their worst games of the season and are without a spark as the well-rested second-place Angels visit for a critical three-game series that begins tonight.

The Angels, meanwhile, have won six straight.

When asked what needs to change, Michael Young said the Rangers need to "play better." But they aren't in panic mode entering the weekend.

"This game will be long gone by the time tomorrow's game starts," said Young, who had one of the three hits issued by Miller. "Every game is big. It doesn't matter who we're playing, if we're home or on the road, or if it's day or night. It's important for us to come out and play well.

"We have a new opportunity tomorrow. It doesn't really matter what happened in the past. These games are over with. We've been through these stretches before, and we've always answered the bell. I expect this to be the same thing."

Ogando (12-6) threw only two pitches to Adrian Gonzalez, who hit them a combined 859 feet. His first homer was a two-out solo shot in the first inning, and the second was a two-run blast that traveled 448 feet to the opposite field.

Gonzalez hit five homers in the series after hitting none through his first 21 games this month.

David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia also hit home runs against Ogando, who entered having allowed only 12 this season. All four of the home runs were hit by left-handed batters on fastballs, and three came on the first pitch.

"They were ready for my fastball," said Ogando, who otherwise felt that he had good stuff. "I was trying to get ahead with my fastball. The four home runs they hit got me out of the game."

Scott Feldman and Mike Adams provided five scoreless innings of relief, but Miller never gave in when the Rangers had chances to score.

Craig Gentry and Ian Kinsler were on first and second with one out in the third inning, but Elvis Andrus double play.

The first two Rangers reached in the sixth, and Omar Quintanilla reached third with one out, but the inning ended as Josh Hamilton struck out and Andrus was caught stealing.

"We didn't get it done the last three games," Young said. "We feel like we have a talented enough offense to score no matter what the circumstances are."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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