LOS ANGELES — No one with the Texas Rangers was disputing the balk call that sent them to a 1-0 loss late Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.
Keone Kela’s right shoulder didn’t turn much, but it turned enough for the umpires to send pinch-runner Enrique Hernandez home from third base with the game’s only run with two outs in the ninth inning.
There were also two strikes on Jimmy Rollins.
“We could see it,” manager Jeff Banister said. “I didn’t need [the umps] to tell me it was a balk.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
The manner in which the Rangers lost overshadowed the way they got to the ninth inning in a scoreless tie. Not enough offense, for sure, but spot starter Anthony Ranaudo tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings in what he called the finest moment of his young career.
The right-hander scattered five hits and matched zeroes with former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. In the process, Ranaudo might have given the Rangers more confidence in him after a lousy outing in his only other start this season.
“The biggest thing is it erases that first start for me this year,” Ranaudo said. “It just shows that it was just a bad outing and gets me back on track to be where I need to be when the team needs me. Whatever my role is going forward or wherever I am, it’s just having that confidence that I can help the team win.”
Ranaudo said that his fastball command was big for him, and he was able to use his curveball throughout. He made key pitches with runners at third and only one out in the first and the seventh to help keep the Dodgers scoreless.
The Dodgers made some hard contact, but well-positioned fielders had no problem gobbling them up. When he threw his 100th and final pitch, giving way as Ross Detwiler got the final out of the seventh, Ranaudo had, just as he’d hoped, left a favorable impression.
Though he is a strong candidate to be optioned back to Triple A Round Rock on Friday, having completed his task of giving the rotation an extra day of rest, Ranaudo will be back again at some point.
“He looked very settled on the mound, a guy that was in control of himself and in control of his pitches,” Banister said. “Much improved. A great job by our development people with Anthony.”
The problem for the Rangers was that Greinke was better. He allowed only four singles, didn’t walk anyone, and struck out eight over seven scoreless innings.
He allowed singles to Shin-Soo Choo and Rougned Odor to start the fourth, but got the next three hitters, and was aided in the seventh by a replay challenge that showed Elvis Andrus was out trying to go to third on a two-out Robinson Chirinos single to left field.
Neither Andrus nor Banister initially agreed with the overturn, and Banister had no issues with Andrus’ gamble to try to take third.
“I was safe,” Andrus said. “I don’t get it. I took my chances on that play. I knew I had a chance. I got there before the ball. They have to make an adjustment.”
Detwiler and Tanner Scheppers got the game to Kela in the ninth. He walked the first two batters he faced, Yasmani Grandal and Andre Either, but got Alberto Callaspo to bounce into a double play after failing to get the bunt down.
Kela (4-4) moved ahead of Rollins 1-2, and Hernandez broke toward home and caused Kela to turn his front shoulder after coming set.
“It’s pretty simple. I beat myself tonight,” Kela said. “I came set, he took off, and I moved a little bit.”
Said Banister: “There was a little shoulder turn. It was a balk. It was very slight, but it was there. It’s not a loss we’re going to spend a whole of time on.”
Instead, the Rangers should spend some time looking at Ranaudo’s effort, the best of his young career.
“Statistically, I believe this is my best one that I have had,” said Ranaudo, who walked two and struck out four. “I would have liked to get the win, but as far as being able to execute pitches and mix pitches against this time and in this environment is the best I’ve felt afterward.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760