August 15, 2012

Josh Hamilton's homers not enough as Rangers fall to Yankees

Josh Hamilton is back, but the Texas Rangers offense remains inconsistent.

NEW YORK -- Josh Hamilton is back, but the Texas Rangers offense remains inconsistent.

Hamilton belted a pair of home runs and Scott Feldman had a quality start, but the Rangers fell 3-2 to the Yankees on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. First pitch was delayed by one hour, 45 minutes because of rain.

Despite losing the first three games of a four-game series to the Yankees, the Rangers maintained a six-game lead in the American League West over Oakland, which lost to Kansas City. The Angels could have pulled to within six games with a victory over Cleveland late Wednesday.

"What I've seen the past three days is the Yankees pitchers are shutting us down," manager Ron Washington said. "[Yankees starter] Freddy Garcia had good off-speed stuff tonight, stayed off the plate and down in the zone. The mistakes he made -- Hamilton made him pay for them."

Feldman retired the first four batters and worked out of a jam in the second. In the third, though, the Yankees rallied for three runs.

Jayson Nix led off with an infield single as Feldman got to the high chopper but bounced his throw past first baseman Mike Olt. Nix stole second, went to third on a single by Derek Jeter and scored on a double down the left-field line by Nick Swisher.

Curtis Granderson then pushed across a run with a sacrifice fly to center, and two batters later Eric Chavez had a two-out single to left.

That was enough for Garcia, who minimized damage all night. Or, depending on the point of view, the Rangers wasted scoring opportunities.

Mitch Moreland had a one-out double in the third, but Olt flew out and Ian Kinsler grounded out. A better chance presented itself in the fourth.

With one out, Hamilton swatted a solo shot to the second deck in right, ending a 19-inning scoreless streak by the Rangers. It was Hamilton's career-high 33rd home run and his 100th RBI of the season.

The Rangers kept the rally going, loading the bases with one out. Adrian Beltre singled, Nelson Cruz reached on a fielder's choice grounder and David Murphy drew a walk. But Garcia got out of trouble by inducing an inning-ending double play groundout by Geovany Soto.

"Yeah, that was a big inning, but once again, Freddy made a pitch," Washington said. "Pitching stops everything. We were in the ballgame, and [it was] the one inning we didn't cash our opportunity in.

"We'll bounce back tomorrow. Maybe we need the challenge of facing [Ivan] Nova."

Hamilton homered again with one out in the sixth, sending a towering shot over the right-center field fence, pulling the Rangers to within one, but Texas had only one base runner the rest of the night.

Does Hamilton feel he's back to his early-season form?

"Not completely," Hamilton said. "It'll be there for a few at-bats ... it's just -- I don't know. I need to go up with a plan every at-bat."

Garcia retired the first two batters of the seventh before being relieved by left-hander Boone Logan, who got Rangers pinch hitter Michael Young to fly out.

Yankees right-hander David Robertson pitched a perfect eighth, including a called strikeout on Kinsler. Kinsler argued and was eventually tossed by umpire Vic Carapazza.

Hamilton led off the ninth against Yankees closer Rafael Soriano but struck out swinging. The Rangers had late life when Cruz reached on an error with two outs, but Murphy grounded out to end the game.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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