Rangers hit the road after losing homestand

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers had everything going for them when they started their seven game homestand last Friday.

Backed by the hottest player in the American League, the Rangers took two of three games from rival Los Angeles in their first matchup of the season in front of packed houses at Rangers Ballpark.

The packed houses continued for series against Kansas City and Oakland but the good baseball didn’t.

The stand came to an end with a whimper Thursday as Oakland topped the Rangers 5-4 in 10 innings, giving Texas three in four games as they head out on the road.

It was an ugly way to end too as Matt Harrison struggled early and the Rangers lineup failed throughout in the clutch as the Rangers led 14 runners on base and were just 1 of 12 with runners in scoring position.

Maybe getting out of Arlington will be a good thing.

“It was rough,” Harrison said of the homestand. “We’ve got to move past it and do a better job. Sometimes, you’re going to have series like that. But we’re going to take it down to Houston on the road.”

The short flight to Houston may not give the Rangers time to process everything that went wrong Thursday.

Harrison’s 31-pitch first inning but the Rangers in a 3-0 hole but they were able to get back to even thanks to a pair of homers from Mitch Moreland.

That bailed out Harrison, who lasted only 5 1/3 innings and allowed eight hits and walked three.

Following Moreland’s homer in the sixth to tie the game, Texas caught a break on a squeeze bunt that Elvis Andrus laid down that scored Craig Gentry. Replays showed Oakland pitcher Brandon McCarthy caught the Andrus ball, but home-plate ump Laz Diaz disagreed.

Just when it seemed like the breaks would go for the Rangers, they left runners on second and third to end that inning, leaving them clinging to a 4-3 lead.

The sixth ended with Michael Young and Adrian Beltre grounding out with runners in scoring position.

That would be a theme as the Rangers couldn’t get a run in with a runner on third and one out in the bottom of the in the bottom of the ninth. Nelson Cruz struck out and Brandon Snyder grounded out after an intentional walk loaded the bases.

There was also the homer allowed by Alexi Ogando in the seventh inning to Josh Reddick. It was the first homer Ogando allowed this season. And then there was the top of the 10th that started with Jonny Gomes hitting a squibber down the first-base line that somehow stayed fair. Gomes came around to score the game winner on a Kila Ka’aihue single to right off Mike Adams.

“You never want to lose,” said Moreland, who was pinch-hit for by Brandon Snyder in the seventh. “You want to try and come out and win every game. It was a tough game but we’re going to come out tomorrow ready to play. You’re going to have your ups and downs. We started out good (on homestand) and maybe hit a little bit of a lull.”

Moreland woke the Rangers up out of their lull in the fourth with a two-run homer to left off McCarthy. His homer in the sixth gave him four two-homer games for his career. He wasn’t able to add to it as Snyder replaced him against left-hander Jordan Norberto with the go-ahead run at third in the seventh.

Moreland came into the game 3 for 16 against left-handers this season while Snyder was 8 for 22. But just like a lot of things Thursday, the move didn’t work as Snyder flew out to center.

Texas manager Ron Washington lamented his team’s missed chances.

“In the seventh when we dropped the squeeze bunt, we ended up putting ourselves in the situation where we had runners on second and third,” he said. “We didn’t deliver there. We could have added to the lead. Then in the ninth inning we got the bases loaded, one out, and didn’t make contact.”

While many in the sellout crowd of 47,182 might have left Rangers Ballpark frustrated with the homestand and Thursday in particular, Washington wasn’t one of them.

“I wouldn’t call it frustrating,” he said. “That’s harsh. Those guys have delivered so much in those situations. It’s a tough loss, but it’s not frustrating because we still have a lot of games on the schedule. You can’t get frustrated with one game because that frustration ends up just snowballing.”