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TOR@TEX: Eppley earns his first Major League win

ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Cody Eppley earned his first Major League victory in only his second appearance on Wednesday night. It took a couple of 40-something relievers with 1,460 Major League appearances between them to get him that victory.

"He's going to take us out to dinner on this road trip for making two 40-year-old guys help him get his first win," Arthur Rhodes said.

Eppley certainly isn't going to mind picking up that check. He was bubbling over for joy after Mitch Moreland's seventh-inning home run gave the Rangers a 7-6 victory over the Blue Jays at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Eppley did give up a tying home run to Juan Rivera in the top of the seventh, and that took away a potential victory from Derek Holland. But one run in two innings was still good enough to put him in position to get the win when Moreland went deep off of reliever Octavio Dotel. Eppley just needed a scoreless eighth from Rhodes and ninth from Oliver to get that first one.

"It's always great to have those guys behind you," Eppley said. "This is just a dream come true from everything ... my first day here [on Saturday] and now this. I did hawk the win away from Holland, but to get the opportunity and accomplish the dream of getting my first Major League win is awesome."

Denying Holland a win might end up not be a good thing for Eppley. Holland is going to be his landlord when they share an apartment after this upcoming West Coast road trip to Oakland and Seattle.

"I might have to do something about his rent or pop his air mattress," Holland said.

But Holland really knows he has only himself to blame for not being able to secure his fourth victory. The Rangers scored six runs with two outs in the third inning against Blue Jays starter Jo-Jo Reyes and gave Holland a 6-2 lead. But he let the Blue Jays score three with two outs in the fourth.

"I just had to continue to battle and do everything I could to make pitches," Holland said.

Oliver earned the save, his second since Neftali Feliz went on the disabled list last Saturday with inflammation in his right shoulder. It was also just the fifth in 603 Major League games. He wasn't supposed to be the Rangers' closer, but it's his job now until Feliz gets back.

"Hey, I'm just trying to go out there and pitch," Oliver said. "Whatever my role is, I'm just trying to get outs. They just happened to be the last outs tonight."

Oliver admitted they were also stressful. Oliver struck out Mike McCoy to lead off the inning and retired Jose Bautista, who was leading the league in home runs, on a foul popup. But Adam Lind singled to right and Rivera singled to left, leaving the Blue Jays with runners on the corners and Edwin Encarnacion at the plate.

The count went 2-2 and Encarnacion then fouled off four straight pitches. Three were fastballs and one was a slider. Oliver threw one more fastball and Encarnacion went down swinging to end the game.

"That probably put a little more gray hair on my head," Oliver said. "Just what I wanted."

The game-winning fastball was clocked at 89 mph.

"He just doesn't panic," catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. "He's been around a long time and he just executes his pitches. When he misses, it's for a purpose."

"Rhodes and Ollie, they got it done," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "For that purpose, we had the right people on the mound. I didn't see any of them concerned, they just kept making pitches."

The Rangers have been switching relievers in and out of the bullpen all through this homestand. But their relievers also have a 3.47 ERA in their last seven games and they've held their last three ninth-inning leads without Feliz being available. The Rangers are 14-0 this season when leading after the seventh and eighth innings.

"When your closer goes down like that, you have to pick him up," Rhodes said. "That's what you're seeing. We're doing our jobs and getting guys out."

Eppley is included in that. He gave up the home run to Rivera, but that's the only run he has allowed in four innings over two appearances since being called up on Saturday.

"He's good, man, he just pounds the strike zone," Torrealba said. "I told him the pitch to Juan Rivera was a good one. He just went down and got it. But overall he was good, throwing his fastball inside and his slider away."

Just like those savvy veterans he will be dining with on the road. Comments