September 7, 2011

Holland, Rangers denied uplifting comeback win

Derek Holland's third consecutive quality start and Ian Kinsler's two home runs go for naught in Rays' walk-off win.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Comebacks in the late innings haven't been in the Texas Rangers' repertoire this season, especially on the road. It seemed like that trend might not hold true against Tampa Bay on Wednesday afternoon.

The Rangers had rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 4-2, and forced extra innings when Ian Kinsler belted a solo home run off the Rays' closer in the ninth. But fate wasn't on Texas' side.

Mark Lowe came in to work the 10th for the Rangers, and wanted to get ahead in the count. His first offering was a fastball over the plate, and Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings sent it into the left-field seats, sending the Rays to a 5-4 walk-off victory at Tropicana Field.

The Rangers are 0-30 on the road when trailing after eight, and 16-22 overall in one-run games. The loss also pulled the Los Angeles Angels, who beat Seattle 3-1 Wednesday, back within 2 1/2 games in the American League West.

"Just a normal fastball," Lowe said, dejectedly. "Our team battled back to tie the game, and you don't want to be the last guy standing out there that everybody looks at. The game rides on your shoulders, but it's part of being a reliever. You've got to swallow it, leave it here, and get ready for the next day."

The Rangers found themselves in a 3-0 hole when starter Derek Holland struggled at the start of the game. He issued a leadoff walk to Jennings in the first inning, and then gave up consecutive one-out doubles to Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist that put the Rays up 2-0.

Tampa Bay made it 3-0 in the second. Holland walked Kelly Shoppach, who eventually scored on a throwing error by Kinsler.

Holland settled into a zone after that, retiring nine straight, including five consecutive strikeouts from the fourth inning into the fifth. He walked Longoria with two outs in the fifth, but responded by striking out Zobrist.

Holland had another mistake in the sixth, giving up a solo home run to Brandon Guyer. The Rays had a 4-2 lead when Holland left after 6 2/3 innings. He allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits with three walks and nine strikeouts.

"I did a fairly good job of keeping us in the game," said Holland, who made three consecutive quality starts for the first time in his career. "I knew we were going to come back because I know how the offense is. So I had to keep my head straight [early in the game], and don't let that stuff get to me."

The Rangers' offense did come back.

Texas scored single runs in the fourth and fifth, the latter coming on Kinsler's solo homer.

With a 4-2 deficit going into the eighth, Mike Napoli drilled a solo shot to make it a one-run game. And then Kinsler tied it at 4-4 in the ninth, unleashing on the first pitch he saw from Kyle Farnsworth. It wasn't enough, though.

"It's always frustrating when you lose," said Kinsler, who has seven homers in his last seven games and 28 for the season, which ties for the team lead. "It's more frustrating when you do something good offensively, and still walk away with a loss because it means nothing."

Kinsler said he was pleased with how the team played on the six-game road trip, going 3-3 after trips to Boston (a 2-1 series win) and Tampa Bay. Over their last four series against the Angels, the Rays twice and Red Sox, the Rangers are a respectable 7-5.

"We want to try and win every series, but I'm very happy with the way we're playing," manager Ron Washington said. "We were in the ballgame today. One swing of the bat made the difference."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

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