CHICAGO -- Ron Washington made it clear that it wasn't an excuse for the Rangers' slow start Friday night, but he said there was no denying it -- his ballclub was tired.
And who could blame them?
Texas landed in Chicago at 6 a.m. CT on Friday, just 13 hours before first pitch against the White Sox, fresh off a walk-off loss in Anaheim late Thursday night. Luckily for the Rangers, Mitch Moreland, who missed Thursday's game with tightness in his right hamstring, woke up the Texas offense in the fourth inning with his first of two home runs en route to a 7-4 victory in front of 28,308 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Through three innings, it seemed like the White Sox were going to take advantage of the hectic schedule for the Rangers, who were playing their eighth game of a 10-game road trip. Jake Peavy held the Rangers hitless through 3 2/3 and Chicago raced out to a 3-0 lead before Nelson Cruz hit an RBI double in the fourth and Moreland added a three-run blast three hitters later.
"[Darn] right we were [tired]," Washington said. "You can't get around that. You can't use that as an excuse, but we were tired, no doubt about that. It's not so much the physical part of it, but they just played a tough ballgame [Thursday] night, and that takes a lot out of you mentally. It just took us a few innings to get back in the groove, and a few runs will always do that for you."
With the game tied entering the sixth, Josh Hamilton led things off with a towering home run to right field on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, and Moreland connected again off Peavy with a two-run shot that put the Rangers ahead, 7-4.
"It's just frustrating," Peavy said. "I just didn't get anybody out with two outs. It's frustrating because I had pretty good stuff tonight, and when you have good stuff, you don't expect that. It started with [Nelson] Cruz. I got real frustrated with Cruz. The bottom line, you have to get somebody out there. When they score six runs with two outs ...that can't happen. It's as disappointing as it gets."
Despite missing Thursday's game, Moreland picked up right where he left off, recording his third-career multi-home run game and a career-high-tying five RBIs. He is now 9-for-16 with three home runs and nine RBIs in his past four games.
"I've just been trying to work, slow stuff down, not press a lot in the box," Moreland said. "I felt like I was pressing a little before, getting out of my game plan and not seeing some pitches. I was swinging at some stuff that I probably shouldn't have been swinging at. So far this road trip, I've felt like I've done a lot better with that."
Even with Moreland's offensive spark, the Rangers allowed the White Sox to rally and tie the game, as Rangers starter Matt Harrison struggled to find the strike zone for much of the night. Harrison issued a leadoff walk in the fifth to Gordon Beckham, who later scored on a sacrifice fly to knot the game at four. The southpaw then threw a wild pitch and issued another walk, ending his night after just 4 1/3 innings, as Washington called on reliever Yoshinori Tateyama with two on and one out.
Similar to the way Moreland picked up the Rangers offensively, Tateyama came on and turned things around. After Hamilton made a running grab while crashing into the wall in center to rob Carlos Quentin of extra bases and prevent the White Sox from taking the lead, Tateyama got Alexei Ramirez to pop out to catcher Yorvit Torrealba to escape the jam.
"That was quite a play right there," Washington said of Hamilton's catch. "We certainly needed it. Tatey came in and got the ball in play and kept it in the field. Quentin just didn't get enough of it, and what it ended up being is what we needed right there -- an out."
From that point on, Tateyama was in control, not allowing a hit over 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the victory. Mike Adams bounced back from allowing Thursday's walk-off home run to pitch a perfect eighth and Neftali Feliz followed with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 25th save of the season.
"I just feel like I didn't do my job tonight," said Harrison, who threw 43 of his 81 pitches for strikes. "But Tateyama came in and did a great job of getting me out of that jam and the bullpen just did a great job shutting them down."
The Rangers improved to 12-3 in their past 15 games, including a 7-1 mark on their current 10-game road trip. During those eight games away from Arlington, the Rangers have outscored their opponents 50-24 and now sit 20 games above .500 at 73-53.
"We're playing good baseball," Moreland said. "We're pitching, we're playing pretty good defense and we're getting hits that we need. With the way we're going right now, in this part of the season, it's good for us. Hopefully we can build on it."
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.