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TB@TEX: Chavez makes a running catch in the third

ARLINGTON -- Alexi Ogando didn't seem to have any answers after the Rangers' 4-1 loss to the Rays on Wednesday night at Rangers Ballpark.

Ogando allowed three runs on five hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings in earning his seventh loss.

"In the beginning of the season, my arm was very sharp. I feel like in these last outings I've been losing the strike zone," Ogando said through a translator. "I feel good physically, but I know I don't have that feeling for the strike zone."

Despite the loss, the Rangers maintained their 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels in the American League West following the Halos' 2-1 defeat to the Mariners.

Ogando, who has now pitched two-thirds of an inning more in this season than in the rest of his professional career combined, has gone 5-7 in his last 14 starts.

"I felt confused," Ogando said. "My body feels that I am good, but my arm doesn't do what I want. That's what I'm feeling now."

Ogando leaves the month of August with a 7.13 ERA. In two starts, he failed to get out of the third inning.

In Wednesday's game, he looked sharp through four batters, striking out three of them, including Evan Longoria on a 98-mph fastball.

It started to slip away when Ogando hit B.J. Upton in the second inning to put runners on first and second with one out. Ogando allowed six of the next 11 batters to reach base in scoring three runs to end his outing.

"Upton, I think I lost it right there," Ogando said. "I thought too much about it, and I couldn't get it back."

Ogando said that he has been inconsistent in his delivery out of the stretch, which could be leading to his control problems. Upton was the first batter he faced out of the stretch because of a Casey Kotchman single.

"Lately I've been pulling myself to the left side, so I think that's maybe what's going on," Ogando said.

Manager Ron Washington said he couldn't notice any mechanical changes to Ogando, but he could see the results.

"He was getting the ball up," Washington said. "It's obvious they could hit balls up in the zone, because they couldn't hit balls down in the zone last night. Good velocity, good breaking ball, he just was getting it up."

On Tuesday, Scott Feldman pitched six scoreless innings in Matt Harrison's spot in order to give Harrison a rest and limit his innings.

Feldman could start again in Harrison's spot again Sunday in Boston and have Harrison, who threw two innings of relief in Wednesday's game, start Monday against the Rays in St. Petersburg.

If that or something else to allow Feldman another start is being considered by the organization, Washington did not allow for much speculation.

"[Ogando's] getting the ball [Monday]," Washington said. "I just left the field and came to here. If it is in flux, I don't think I would be telling you about it. As of right now, he will be getting the ball."

Even with Ogando's struggles, the team was faced with just a three-run deficit for their next four innings, and they could not get a baserunner off Rays starter James Shields.

As it turned out, the team's best opportunity to score came in the first inning. After Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton singled, Michael Young drew a walk to load the bases with one out.

Shields was able to get Mike Napoli to ground to third base, and Longoria started a 5-4-3 double play to keep the Rangers off the scoreboard.

"Napoli's not a double-play candidate as far as hitting ground balls," Shields said. "He's a fly ball hitter. So I really had to be real fine with my pitches right there, and I threw a slider down and away and he ended up rolling it over. And we've got a Gold Glover over there at third base."

To come away from the rally without an earned run seemed to focus Shields, as he retired the next 14 batters.

"I think it is [a turning point], especially when you've got a guy like that on the ropes," Washington said. "You want to at least deliver something, and he got out of it with a ground-ball double play. If our pitchers were in that situation, I certainly would have loved it."

The bullpen held the Rays in check, allowing just a solo home run to Johnny Damon over 6 1/3 innings.

Texas made a two-out comeback in the ninth with three consecutive singles that scored a run and brought the potential tying run to the plate, but Yorvit Torrealba struck out swinging to end the threat.

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