ARLINGTON, Texas — Lost balls in the sun. Lost runners on the base paths. Lost outs because of defensive errors.
The Texas Rangers have the lost thing down since the All-Star break as Baltimore completed a sweep of the three-game series with a 4-2 win Sunday night. Texas, which has now lost seven of its last games, is three games out of first place in the American League West for just the second time this season.
The Rangers never led in the series and never game themselves a chance Sunday, committing two errors, losing two runners on the bases and going 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position to cap a 3 for 22 series.
“It was a tough weekend,” Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “It’s about winning games and we didn’t win any of them. We gave ourselves some opportunities and that’s really it. We just didn’t cash in. We lost three games to a team we felt like we should beat. That’s not very characteristic of us but we’ll see how we respond.”
Kinsler had a hand in the play that best summed up the series.
With the Rangers down 4-0 in the fifth inning and runners on second and third, he lined a single to right that scored Elvis Andrus. But David Murphy, who was at second when the ball was hit, was caught between third base and home plate and tagged out to end the inning.
It marked the second time in the series the Rangers have had a gaffe at third base between a runner and third-base coach Gary Pettis. Texas manager Ron Washington said Pettis second-guessed himself on the play, leading Murphy to get tagged out on the play. Murphy was also one of two runners the Rangers lost on the base paths Sunday, giving them a whopping 69 on the season.
“Very uncharacteristic baseball,” Washington said. “Plays that we usually take pride in making we just haven’t made them. Sometimes the game finds you in that position.”
The Rangers put themselves in a bad position early Sunday despite solid pitching from left-hander Martin Perez.
Murphy lost a ball in the sun in left field to Chris Davis to open the second inning and Matt Wieters singled to make it 1-0. An infield single then put runners on first and second. Perez looked to get out of trouble by getting a ground ball to short but Elvis Andrus booted the ball, loading the bases. Brian Roberts followed that up with a single to push the lead to 2-0.
Perez worked out of that jam without further trouble before the Orioles tacked on single runs in the third and fourth innings to double the lead to 4-0.
Perez pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on nine hits. He was able to keep the Rangers in the game despite the plays not being made behind him.
“I threw good and competed until the last inning and that’s what I want to do every time,” Perez said. “I don’t mind if we are losing or winning, I have to compete every night. That’s what I did tonight.”
Despite getting just six hits off Baltimore starter Chris Tillman the Rangers still had chances to win the game. Adrian Beltre homered to open the ninth and the Rangers had the tying run at the plate with one out in the ninth. Darren O’Day got Andrus to ground into a force out and then struck out Murphy to end the game.
Each of the three games in the series ended with the Rangers having the tying run at the plate, which just adds to the sting of the series.
“It wasn’t the way we wanted to start,” Andrus said. “We left too many guys on base and we’ve got to execute. I think that’s something everybody knows and we’ve got to work on it. We’ve got to continue to play hard. There are too many games ahead. We cannot stop and think about the bad things. We’ve got to take the positive things from today and this series and keep rolling.”