Rangers 15, Marlins 5

Alexi Ogando kept insisting he felt fine and wasn’t wearing out

only halfway through the season for the Texas Rangers.

Maybe now everybody will believe him.

Ogando limited the Florida Marlins to two runs and five hits

over 6 2-3 innings with a career-high eight strikeouts, ending the

right-hander’s personal three-game losing streak in the Rangers’

15-5 victory Friday night when Nelson Cruz homered and had six RBIs

on his 31st birthday.

”Ogando never wavered from his confidence, and more than what

we thought, it was about what he thought, and it’s obvious he kept

saying that he was OK,” manager Ron Washington said. ”Tonight, he

went out there and he did it.”

Ogando (8-3), a converted outfielder who had never been a

starter before this season, hadn’t pitched past the fifth inning in

any of his previous three starts. He was 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA his

first 12 starts before that.

”I never say that I’m tired, I never admitted that, never think

that I’m tired. I always told you that I’m OK, that my arm is right

and my energy is there,” Ogando said through a translator. ”I’m

new starting games, been learning every outing.”

He got plenty of help from the Rangers offense, which rebounded

for a shutout loss in Houston the previous night to score a

season-high 15 runs.

Texas got its first seven runs in 3 2-3 innings off Anibal

Sanchez (6-2), who saw the end of his Marlins’ season record of 14

consecutive starts without a loss.

”He’s a better pitcher than that. You could see he wasn’t in

tune tonight,” manager Jack McKeon said. ”He doesn’t generally

walk anybody. He got behind guys, walked guys, nibbled with them

and missed with his breaking ball. This is a hitting club over

here. You can’t mess around with them. And he killed himself,

walking two leadoff guys. That’s like a kiss of death really. They

always score, I don’t care where you’re at.”

Michael Young led off the second with a walk and put the AL

West-leading Rangers ahead to stay when he scored on the first of

Taylor Teagarden’s two doubles.

Beltre had an RBI single in the third before Cruz hit his 19th

homer – a 412-foot, three-run blast over the Rangers bullpen in

right-center – to make it 5-0.

After the Marlins intentionally walked reigning AL MVP Josh

Hamilton to load the bases with two outs in the fourth, Beltre hit

a two-run double to right to chase Sanchez.

Andres Blanco led off the Texas eighth with his second homer,

starting a six-run outburst that included a three-run triple by

Cruz.

”It was a good birthday,” Cruz said, giving plenty of credit

to Ogando.

”It’s not that easy and the way he’s been doing it is

amazing,” Cruz said. ”After three bad starts, it’s good for him

to come back strong.”

The Marlins didn’t even have a baserunner until Hanley Ramirez

led off the fifth with a walk. They got their first hit on Greg

Dobbs’ two-out single that inning, though they didn’t score after

John Buck struck out.

While Sanchez was getting knocked around, Ogando threw 29 of his

first 36 pitches through three innings for strikes. Ogando struck

out six while retiring the first 12 Marlins batters mixing all of

his pitches.

Ogando threw 102 pitches, 75 for strikes, and really had no

trouble until the seventh when Florida started with three

consecutive hits to finally score against him.

Last Saturday against the New York Mets, Ogando gave up eight

hits and six runs while throwing 76 pitches over three innings. He

trailed 3-0 after only four batters.

He was dehydrated when he left his previous start after throwing

104 pitches over five innings on a hot afternoon in Atlanta. He

gave up six runs in only 1 2-3 innings at the New York Yankees on

June 14.

The losing streak had raised questions about whether he was

wearing out and the Rangers had even discussed bypassing one of his

last starts before the All-Star break. He has thrown 97 2-3

innings, already 25 more than he did combined last season in 18

minor league games and then 44 appearances as a setup reliever for

the Rangers.

Washington said there are still thoughts about giving Ogando a

break.

The only other loss for Sanchez this season was also in Texas,

on April 10 at Houston when he gave up six runs and 13 hits in 4

2-3 innings in his second start. Sanchez hasn’t won since June 10

against Arizona despite allowing only four runs over 20 innings his

previous three starts – all no-decisions in one-run losses by the

Marlins.

Reliever Brian Sanches was done after giving up consecutive

two-out RBI doubles to Hamilton and Beltre in the sixth that gave

Texas a 9-0 lead.

Notes: Beltre has 18 RBIs his last 21 games, and has 61 for the

season. … Texas opened a stretch of 10 consecutive home games

before the All-Star break. … The only other time the Marlins

played at Rangers Ballpark was 2003, when McKeon was also their

manager. McKeon, now 80, became the Florida manager again last

week. Back in 1963, McKeon managed the Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers, a

Triple-A team for the Minnesota Twins. That was nine seasons before

the major league Rangers came into existence when the Washington

Senators moved their franchise to the Lone Star State.