The Texas Rangers were without All-Stars Michael Young and Josh Hamilton, yet that wasn’t supposed to be a serious handicap against a last-place team heading for a 12th consecutive losing season.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, their bats fell silent at a most inopportune time.
Jeremy Guthrie pitched seven innings of six-hit ball, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Rangers 7-0 Sunday to earn their second series win since the All-Star break.
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With Young (hamstring injury) sidelined for a fourth straight game and Hamilton (back) out for the third in a row, Texas managed only seven singles off Guthrie and two relievers. In Saturday’s defeat, the Rangers failed to get a hit over the final six innings.
As a result, Texas now stands 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West and three games in back of Boston for the AL wild-card.
“It’s frustrating to lose. I think the last time we scored was the third inning yesterday. Must be some good pitching going on,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
It was, he conceded, an opportunity lost.
“Of course we missed something because we feel like we can beat them,” he said. “On any given day it’s not always the best team that wins, it’s the team that plays the best. The past two days, they played better than us.”
Brian Roberts, Jeff Fiorentino and Chad Moeller each had two hits and two RBIs for the Orioles, whose only other series win since mid-July was against the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 21-23.
“They’re missing a couple of their big offensive parts, but to their credit they’re still battling,” Guthrie said of the Rangers. “For us to win two out of three at this point is certainly a big boost.”
Guthrie (10-13) continued his late-season revival with one of his best outings of the year. The right-hander struck out six, walked one and allowed only one runner past second base. He has won three of his last four starts, allowing only four runs over 27 innings to get his ERA below 5.00 (4.96) for the first time since May 30.
“The one consistent thing that I’ve had is that I’ve never stopped working, and I’ve never really lost the hope or the confidence that things would turn around at some point,” Guthrie said.
With Guthrie leading the way, the Orioles won a second straight game for only the third time since the All-Star break. Baltimore hasn’t won three in a row since the third week in June.
Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz had two hits apiece for the Rangers, whose run of scoreless innings is at 15.
“It’s unusual,” Kinsler said. “But we’re in the middle of a pennant race and we don’t have time to really think about that.
Derek Holland (7-10) struck out the first two batters he faced in a perfect first inning, but Moeller hit a two-out, two-run double in the second.
The Orioles chased Holland during a four-run fourth. After Fiorentino singled in a run, Roberts hit a two-run single and Nolan Reimold capped the outburst with a sacrifice fly.
Fiorentino added an RBI single in the seventh for a 7-0 lead.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time they’re big league baseball players,” Kinsler said. “You can’t just throw your glove out there and expect to win. You still have to score runs and play good defense, and they did it better than us for two games.”
Hamilton returned to Texas for more treatment on the pinched nerve in his back. … Roberts returned to his customary leadoff spot after batting third in the previous two games. … Baltimore improved to 2-8 in series finales, 1-5 at home, against the AL West. … Washington flip-flopped his starting rotation for Monday and Tuesday in Cleveland, opting for Tommy Hunter followed by Brandon McCarthy. … The season series ended tied 5. Texas had won it for four straight years.