Pirates complete three-game sweep of Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers were on the verge for the entire three-game series against the Pittsburgh series.

Texas was on the verge of rallying in every game but instead was swept by the Pirates, with Wednesday’s frustrating 7-5 loss completing the trifecta.

Now the Rangers are on the verge of having all the work they did the first five months of the season wasted as their September swoon continues.

Texas has lost nine of the last 12 games and is now 2 ½ games behind Oakland as the Athletics come to town for the biggest series of the year starting Friday.

That series will start with Texas having zero momentum as both the starting pitching and hitting have faltered.

“We have to play better baseball,” said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who went 2 for 5 with an RBI. “That’s the bottom line. It doesn’t matter who our opponent is. When you lose ballgames there’s usually something that affects that game. It’s very rare that you play a crisp game as a ball club and you lose. It doesn’t happen very often. Better teams overcame.”

The Rangers couldn’t overcome a fast start by Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett and another poor one from Texas starter Matt Garza. The Rangers didn’t get a ball out of the infield against Burnett until A.J. Pierzynski’s out-out double in the fifth inning.

By that time, the club was already in catch-up mode as Garza struggled with control problems and was gone after just four innings of three-run ball. Garza walked four, including No. 9 hitter Felix Pie in the third inning. Pie came around to score the game’s first run. Garza also walked in a run in the fourth inning.

Garza (3-4 with a 4.46 ERA with Texas) threw 89 pitches in his four-plus innings and is now 0-3 in his last four starts.

“I just didn’t have location and paid for it,” said Garza, who matched his shortest outing of the season. “Four walks will kill you. The difference was those four walks. It sucks but you’ve got to keep moving. You’ve got to let them go and get ready for the next start.”

As anemic as the Texas offense was in getting no-hit through the first four innings, the Rangers had plenty of chances to get back into the game.

The Rangers cut a 4-0 lead to 4-2 in the sixth inning but the bullpen gave those runs back up in the seventh. Again the Rangers rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to make it a 6-5 game but the Pirates responded with a solo homer from Clint Barmes off Tanner Scheppers.

Another Texas attempt to rally in the bottom of the eight fell flat with runners on first and second and one out.  Jurickson Profar struck out looking and David Murphy grounded out to end what would be the last Texas threat.

That’s how things have gone for the Rangers the last couple of weeks.

“We just haven’t been able to get the job done,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “Once again today every time we put runs on the board we couldn’t get a shutdown inning. If we could have gotten a shutdown inning it might have been different but we didn’t today.”

As bad as things have gone for the Rangers, they realize they still control their own fate. If the Rangers can put together a good series against Oakland, the month takes on a different tone.

But it has to start soon.

“We’re ready to play,” Washington said. “Our heart is still in it. We’ve just got to do what we have to do to make sure we win ballgames, that’s all. I’m not concerned. We’ll be ready to play when Oakland comes to town.”