Lewis flirts with perfection as Rangers roll
JUN 12, 2012 9:49p ET
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."