ARLINGTON -- With their bullpen thinned out and two lineup regulars being rested, the Texas Rangers needed Colby Lewis to deliver his personal benchmark, a quality start, Tuesday night.
And, afterward, he and manager Ron Washington agreed that Lewis had thrown relatively well toward home plate.
First base, though, was the problem.
Lewis committed two throwing errors that led to five unearned runs, and the Rangers again were held in check by a former punching bag en route to a 7-4 loss that resulted in a two-game sweep by the Royals.
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No matter how hard they tried to put a positive spin on the big picture of Lewis' performance, the game was lost when two of his throws to first got away.
"If those plays are made it's a different ballgame," Washington said. "We've done that drill a thousand times, but pitchers just keep throwing them away. It's not just my pitchers."
But it was early on against the Royals.
The first batter of the game, Jarrod Dyson, ripped a line double off the right-field wall, but Lewis got the next hitter, Eric Hosmer, to bounce back to the mound. After driving Dyson back to second, Lewis turned for a short throw to first base.
But the throw sailed over the head of first baseman Mitch Moreland to put runners at second and third. Dyson would score on a force out as Hosmer was cut down at third, and Alex Gordon flied out for the second out.
The next four Royals reached, though, and three runs scored to make it 4-0.
"I told myself to make a nice, easy throw over there, and it was just long," Lewis said. "You get that out, and it's a completely different story."
Kansas City upped the lead by another run in the second thanks in part to a Lewis pickoff throw that skipped past Moreland and allowed Dyson to advance to second.
He scored easily on Billy Butler's double two batters later.
"It's part of the game," Washington said. "It happens."
Mike Moustakas made it 6-0 with a solo homer to start the third before the Rangers found their footing against Vin Mazzaro. They cut their deficit in half with two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth against Mazzaro, who was making his first start this season and entered with a 9.49 career ERA against the Rangers.
David Murphy and Mitch Moreland had RBI hits in the fourth, and Josh Hamilton added to his major league RBI lead with his 45th on a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
But Kansas City tacked on another run against Lewis (3-3) in the sixth, an inning kept alive by a two-out walk to Dyson. Lewis, who started on Opening Day, has lost his past three starts.
"It could have gone differently this start," Lewis said. "The last start was weird. I'm not really worried about it."
The Royals' bullpen was nearly perfect over the final four innings against a Rangers lineup that featured four All-Stars but was without shortstop Elvis Andrus and right fielder Nelson Cruz.
Three relievers combined to retired 14 straight, seven by strikeout, before Brandon Snyder delivered a pinch-hit homer with two outs in the ninth.
"We've talked a lot about our depth since the very beginning, and there's plenty of guys that can do some damage up and down the lineup," Murphy said. "Whether it's guys that start every day or guys that play a few times a week, we're confident with whatever lineup we throw out there."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760