Rangers sweep Bucs
ARLINGTON, Texas — The rain that postponed two games this week didn’t cleanse the Pirates and wash away their worst losing stretch of the season.
It merely delayed a deluge of offense by the Texas Rangers.
After taking two unscheduled days off, the Pirates returned to their losing ways Thursday night when they dropped a doubleheader to the Rangers by scores of 9-7 and 10-4.
The losses extended the Pirates’ skid to five losses in a row and 10 of the past 11, dropping them eight games below .500.
“We’re tired of being here that’s for sure,” said Pirates pitcher Josh Fogg, who gave up eight runs in the nightcap. “It seems like we’ve been here for a week.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the Pirates, who play a weekend series in Oakland against the AL West-leading Athletics.
“All the games are tough,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “This is the big leagues. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”
The Pirates wasted 23 hits in the doubleheader, including a 7-for-8 performance from Jason Kendall. Daryle Ward had four hits between the two games and drove in four runs in the opener. Jack Wilson hit a two-run homer in the second game and had four RBI overall.
The Rangers, however, hit five homers that accounted for 13 of their 19 runs.
“They’re a good hitting team,” McClendon said. “We made some bad pitches and they took advantage of them. They pretty much kicked our tails.”
Fogg, who shut out the Chicago Cubs for seven innings in his previous start, was sent to the showers with nobody out in the fifth. He was charged with eight runs, the final three runs coming after Brad Fullmer greeted reliever Mike Johnston with a grand slam to give the Rangers a 9-3 lead.
Fogg (3-5) had his three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time since May 4. He gave up a three-run homer to Mark Teixeira in the third that snapped a 2-2 tie.
“I didn’t do any favors by not keeping the ball down,” Fogg said. “I made a boatload of bad pitches.”
Rangers starter Kenny Rogers (9-2) pitched seven innings and became the first American League pitcher to win nine games.
One of the rare times the Rangers didn’t need to use the long ball came in the seventh inning of the first game. Errors by Wilson and Chris Stynes — his first of the season — helped the Rangers score three unearned runs and take the lead for good.
The Pirates rebounded from a 5-1 deficit and held a 7-6 lead in the seventh before the errors changed the outcome.
Starter Oliver Perez had 12 strikeouts, but he also threw 108 pitches in six innings, which is why he was replaced by Brian Meadows in the seventh.
Rod Barajas opened with a routine grounder to short that scooted through Wilson’s legs for his seventh error. After a wild pitch, Eric Young hit a hard one-hopper to right that shot past second baseman Jose Castillo for a single.
The Rangers had runners on second and third with one out when the Pirates elected to intentionally walk Alfonso Soriano.
Teixeira played into the strategy by hitting a one-hopper to third. Stynes, who had just entered the game for defensive purposes, ignored the force at home and tried for the conventional double play. But Young shielded Stynes’ vision and the ball soared past Castillo’s ankles and went into right field.
Barajas and Young scored to give the Rangers an 8-7 lead. Stynes was hoping for an interference call, but his protest fell on deaf ears. With it went Stynes’ distinction of owning the only unblemished fielding percentage among major-league third basemen.
It reminded McClendon of defensive lapses that cost his team two potential wins in Chicago and another possible victory in the first game of this series.
“Defense has killed us time and time again on this road trip,” McClendon said. “Tonight was no different.”
That took the sting out of what, statistically, looked a sure win. The Pirates out-hit the Rangers, 13-5, while Perez set a season high in strikeouts. But the only three hits he allowed all cleared the fence and accounted for six runs.
Michael Young hit a two-run run shot in the third inning, Gary Matthews Jr. smacked a three-run shot in the fourth and Herbert Perry added a solo shot in the sixth.
“You’re going to give up runs against a team like this,” McClendon said, mindful that the Rangers are fourth in the American League in batting average and home runs. “The fact is, he left with a lead and probably should have won a ballgame.”