Joe Saunders, in perhaps his first and only start with the Rangers this season, allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings before he was smacked by an Evan Longoria line drive and forced to leave the game, and Tampa Bay rolled to a series-opening 8-1 victory Friday night at Tropicana Field.
Sean Rodriguez and Ryan Hanigan hit three-run homers for the Rays, and Jake Odorizzi allowed only three singles in six innings.
It was a tough night all-around for the Rangers. Third baseman Adrian Beltre committed two of their four errors. Two of the gaffes, one by Prince Fielder and Beltre’s first, came during the same fifth-inning at-bat and contributed to an unearned run scoring on a three-run homer by Hanigan.
Elvis Andrus’ error in the third led to an unearned run on Rodriguez’s towering homer. Rodriguez had driven in the first Rays run when he was hit by a Saunders pitch with two outs and the bases loaded.
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A base-running mistake in the fourth inning killed the Rangers’ best chance to score against Odorizzi.
X-rays on Saunders’ ankle were negative, and no word was given on when his next start will be. He might not get another with Colby Lewis close to returning to the rotation.
The Rangers finally scored in the eighth. Andrus doubled with one out and scored easily as Fielder followed with a single.