Rangers’ Lewis finds way back into win column after nearly two years

It had been nearly two years since Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis had won a game.

Kevin Jairaj/Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

ARLINGTON, Texas -€“ Texas Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis said Saturday night he didn’t remember the last time he won a game in the majors.

Going into Saturday’s start against the Chicago White Sox, it had been nearly two years since Lewis beat the Houston Astros in a June 17, 2012, game.

He won’t have to go that far back anymore, as Lewis pitched 5 1/3 solid innings, and the Texas offense kept up its torrid pace in a 6-3 victory over Chicago. The win gave the Rangers five straight, matching the New York Yankees for the longest streak in the American League this season.

Saturday’s win wasn’t vintage Lewis, as he didn’t go his customary six or seven innings. But he showed enough in his 5 1/3 innings of six hit, one-run ball to let everyone know he’s almost all the way back from a nearly two-year absence because of arm and hip surgeries.

"It’s pretty sentimental," Lewis said. "It’s one of the victories I’m excited about. Even though I’m still disappointed I didn’t go deeper in the ballgame, 85 pitches, (pitching coach Mike) Maddux and I kind of talked and I feel like the 85 was better than the 88 I threw the other day (Monday). I felt like I was more relaxed. I felt like I was more of myself tonight."

He looked like it, too. Lewis had pinpoint control early, as 30 of his first 40 pitches were strikes. And just as he did when he was a stalwart in the rotation a few years ago, he minimized damage. Chicago loaded the bases against him with three singles to start the second inning but scored just one run.

The White Sox didn’t threaten again until the sixth inning after a double and a single put two runners on with the Rangers up 5-1. Texas manager Ron Washington didn’t want to risk the White Sox getting a big inning, so Lewis exited for reliever Aaron Poreda to a standing ovation. Poreda and Jason Frasor worked out of that jam and kept Lewis in line for the victory.

"He came out and kept the ball down for the most part and used his pitches well," Washington said. "He kept his stamina going most of the time he was out there. It was nice he was able to get in the win column. He’s no different than any other pitcher, and we just want to continue to see improvement. He’s Colby Lewis. He’ll figure things out. He always does."

Lewis (1-1) said he felt like he had plenty left in the tank when he was pulled but understood the situation.

"My body feels good," Lewis said. "At the end of 85 pitches I felt like every one of the pitches was productive. It’s definitely an improvement, and that’s what we’re looking for."

It didn’t hurt that Lewis had some early run support. Texas scored a run off Jose Quintana in the first inning, and after Chicago tied the game in the second, the Rangers broke the game open with four runs in the fourth inning.

Prince Fielder opened the inning with his second homer of the homestand, Josh Wilson added a two-run single and Shin-Soo Choo a run-scoring double.

The White Sox made things interesting with two runs in the eighth inning, but Texas got some insurance in the bottom of the eighth on a homer from Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Texas finished with 13 hits and now has 31 hits in the first two games of the series.

"Everything is flowing right now," said Alex Rios, who had three hits, including an RBI double in the first. "You just can’t pinpoint one reason why the offense is doing so good, but you can expect games like this with this kind of offense. Hopefully we keep hitting and having good success."

The five-game streak may be a surprise to some given the roster issues with 10 players on the disabled list, but Washington doesn’t see it that way.

"We played all those games in spring training and never put anything together," he said. "We played all the games in the beginning of the year and never really put anything together. It’s time to start getting consistent, and that’s where we want to be."