Lewis flirts with perfection as Rangers roll

ARLINGTON, Texas — Colby Lewis on the pitching mound and the Texas
bats collecting 16 hits make for a great combination for the Rangers.

Lewis, who has struggled to get offensive help throughout this season, made
sure he didn’t need much Tuesday night against Arizona by carrying a perfect
game into the sixth inning. He had plenty of offensive help though as Texas
opened a six game homestand with a 9-1 thumping of the Diamondbacks.

Lewis tossed his second consecutive complete game and carried a shutout into
the eighth inning. He finished with a four hitter and evened his record at 5-5
while lowering his ERA to 3.13.

With a starting rotation in flux, a strong outing from Lewis was very-much
needed. He didn’t disappoint.

“You want to go out there and continue to throw up innings and save the
bullpen,” said Lewis, who threw 105 pitches and struck out seven while
walking just one. “With Alexi (Ogando) going down (on the DL), it’s a big
blow. We’ve got guys coming up who will handle that for us. It’s one of those
things you’ve got to keep going out, throwing up innings and save arms.”

Lewis did that while flirting with perfection early.

He retired the first 15 batters on just 55 pitches and carried a perfect game
into the sixth inning. He got Chris Young to fly out to open the sixth before
Aaron Hill lined a one-out single to left in front of Josh Hamilton.

With perfection out of the equation, Lewis rebounded by getting Josh Bell to
ground into a double play to end the inning. He didn’t allow another hit until
Miguel Montero homered with one out in the eighth, ending the shutout bid.

Lewis was well aware he had a chance at something special Tuesday.

“If you don’t know you haven’t given up a hit you’re lying,” said
Lewis, who had the team’s longest perfect-game bid since Kenny Rogers retired
the first 21 batters against Cleveland on Aug. 9, 2002. “It was fun. My
fault. I hung a strike slider to Hill and he hit it. It’s no big deal. You have
to go after the next guy and not worry about it.”

Lewis had to settle for being the first Texas pitcher to have consecutive
complete games since Derek Holland did it last July. Lewis is also the first
Texas right-hander with consecutive complete games since Kevin Millwood in
2008.

“We certainly needed everything he gave us to save the bullpen,”
Texas manager Ron Washington said. “He was very efficient tonight, down in
the zone, spotting his fastball, his changeup. He didn’t make very many
mistakes and he certainly gave us the outing we needed.”

What the Rangers and Lewis also needed was a breakout night for the offense.

Texas had scored three runs or less 10 times with Lewis on the mound this
season. The Rangers came into Tuesday having scored two runs or less six times
in June after doing it just eight times in the season’s first two months.

Those woeful numbers came to an end as Texas scored its most runs since May 27
and did so with the clutch hit.

The first eight Texas runs scored with two outs and the Rangers finished with
16 hits. All nine starters had at least one.

The big inning was the sixth when the Rangers scored five runs, all coming with
two outs. David Murphy’s two-run homer got the scoring started and that was
followed by four-consecutive hits and three more runs.

Mitch Moreland, Craig Gentry and Ian Kinsler each smacked run-scoring hits to
keep the inning going.

Now the Rangers have to hope the offense can start keeping pace with the
pitching. The Rangers have held opponents to three or less runs in five of the
last seven games.

“Coming off the off-day, we got a little rest and we came out there ready
to go,” said Moreland, who went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
“It took us a few innings but we got it going. That’s what we’re capable
of doing. Hopefully we took some strikes forward tonight and we can carry it
over into tomorrow.”