Sports

Wilson hurls first career shutout as Rangers blast Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- C.J. Wilson let Ron Washington know of his plans in the fifth inning. With the way his pitches were working, Wilson wasn't going to come out of the game.

And he didn't.

Wilson threw his first career complete-game shutout in leading the Texas Rangers to an 8-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.

It marks the 18th shutout by the Rangers' pitching staff this season, the most in franchise history.

"Boom," said Wilson, who matched his career high with his 15th victory. "It's great. We work really well together. The rotation is a team in its own way."

Wilson didn't make too big of a deal about his first career shutout, joking that he still trailed the four thrown by Derek Holland this season.

But the Rangers needed Wilson to turn in that type of outing, especially a day after the Angels had pulled to within 2 1/2 games of first-place Texas in the American League West.

Wilson held the Rays to five singles and finished with three walks and six strikeouts. He also induced four double play grounders, including a game-ending 6-4-3 one by Ben Zobrist.

He got Evan Longoria to ground into an inning-ending double play in the first setting what became a trend throughout the game.

"Those are awesome, so much fun," Wilson said. "In the first inning, [catcher Mike] Napoli came out and said, 'Let's get a sinker away, and let's get a double play.' I said, 'That's a fantastic idea.' The sinker was the double play pitch."

Wilson ran into his most trouble in the fourth, giving up consecutive singles to Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez. Yet again, the double play ball got him out of it.

Those quick innings helped Wilson's case to go the distance.

"From the fifth inning on, he started getting very convenient with his pitches," Washington said.

As far as his rotation setting a franchise record with 18 shutouts, Washington said: "Wow. By the Texas Rangers' pitching staff? It's awesome."

Wilson had plenty of support, as the final score indicated.

Ian Kinsler belted his seventh leadoff home run of the season, sending one into the left-field seats in the first inning. David Murphy then led off the second with a solo home run to right.

The Rangers broke it open with three runs in the third. Josh Hamilton had an RBI double, and Murphy added a two-run double. Texas cushioned its lead to 7-0 in the fifth behind a sacrifice fly by Adrian Beltre and a run-scoring single by Murphy. Napoli had an RBI double in the eighth to bring in the final run.

Murphy went 4 for 4 with a home run, two doubles and four RBIs. He is 16 for 32 with 10 RBIs since Nelson Cruz landed on the disabled list. Murphy had a similar impact last season when Hamilton landed on the DL late in the season.

"Once you get on a roll and start squaring the ball up, it's funny how easy the game can become," Murphy said. "The game can be miserably difficult at the same time. You try to remember the feeling you have when you're going well and duplicate it as much as possible."

The nights of Wilson and Murphy were almost overshadowed in the third inning. Hamilton tweaked his back when he slid headfirst into third base, but he remained in the game.

Afterwards, Hamilton said his back was all right and that it just grabbed him for a second.

Drew Davison

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