Texas Rangers

Adrian Sampson brings relief stuff to start but Leclerc blows ninth-inning lead as Rangers lose in 11

Adrian Sampson finally had his reliever stuff as a starter.

Sampson, who made his third start Tuesday night, kept the Pittsburgh Pirates baffled for most of 5 1/3 innings as the Texas Rangers played the first of a two-game set at Globe Life Park.

The Pirates scored three runs in the ninth against closer Jose Leclerc to tie it and then added three more in the 11th to rally for a 6-4 win.

Sampson, who was making his first start since April 20, held the Pirates scoreless on four hits before leaving the game with one out and one on in the sixth. He was at a season-high 82 pitches.

“The first time through the lineup I felt like I saw what they were doing and I made a couple adjustments on where to put the pitches and after that I got on a little roll,” Sampson said.

Brett Martin replaced Sampson and preserved the shutout with a groundout and strike out of Elias Diaz.

The Texas bullpen threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, including a scoreless seventh from Shawn Kelley and a scoreless eighth from Chris Martin, despite putting two on with one out. Martin struck out Colin Moran and induced a groundout from Elias Diaz.

But Jose Leclerc allowed three hits to start the ninth, including a leadoff double from Bryan Reynolds, that put the Pirates on the board. Josh Bell’s double tied the game at 3-3.

The Rangers scored twice in the fourth. Pirates starter Jordan Lyles loaded the bases after an infield single by Elvis Andrus and walks to Hunter Pence and Joey Gallo.

Asdrubal Cabrera’s bloop single to right field scored Andrus and Pence to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

Joey Gallo walked for the third time in the game with the bases loaded in the eighth to push across an insurance run.

Rougned Odor had reached on a strikeout passed ball and Andrus and Hunter Pence walked to load the bases in front of Gallo. Gallo homered in the 11th to pull Texas to within 6-4. The homer was measured at 467 feet, which is the second-longest home run of his career.

The first two Pirates batters reached in the second, including Francisco Cervelli, who Sampson hit on the left wrist. Sampson, however, settled down after, and retired the next eight batters and 13 of the next 14.

It’s Sampson’s best outing as a starter this season. As a reliever, he pitched six innings of one-run long relief on April 1 against the Astros. But in his first start on April 14 against the Athletics he was knocked out after allowing seven runs in four innings.

On Tuesday night he struck out a season-high five and walked none for the first time in 2019.

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.