Sosa inches closer to milestone
Slugger belts home run No. 597 in Rangers' injury-laden loss
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- This was not about lack of run support, or faulty defense.This was about a starting pitcher who was frustrated because he couldn't hold a lead. Two leads, actually. This one was on Vicente Padilla, who may have been a tough-luck pitcher to this point, but definitely let one get away at Walt Disney World on Wednesday night. Padilla couldn't hold a pair of two-run leads and the Rangers went down to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 11-8, at the Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports. Padilla lasted just four-plus innings and tied a career high by giving up eight earned runs. The Rangers are 1-8 in his nine starts. "I was missing with everything," Padilla said. "It was frustrating. Usually, I'm not given a lead like that, and to give it back, it was frustrating to pitch like that." Padilla had a 3-1 lead in the fourth and a 6-4 lead in the fifth, but the Devil Rays regained the lead in the bottom of the inning both times. "Yeah, that's pretty much the night right there," manager Ron Washington said. "We just couldn't get it done on the mound." The Rangers have now lost seven of their last nine and 12 of their last 17 games, dropping to 10 games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2003 season. There were also the nightly injuries. Jerry Hairston left the game in the fifth with a possible pinched nerve in his neck, and Victor Diaz came out in the eighth after getting hit by a pitch in his left arm. Diaz had X-rays, which were negative. The Rangers are hoping he's fine and will be ready to go on Thursday. The club isn't sure about Hairston, who started at second base and hurt himself diving for a ball. The Rangers are bracing for another roster move, and may bring up a utility infielder, either Drew Meyer, Ramon Vazquez or Tim Hulett. "It's like a Munit right now," Washington said. "But we're going to show up and continue to fight." Washington even tweaked his hamstring running out to argue a call at second base. "I was hoping nobody saw that," Washington said. "I'm not going on the DL. It was just more of a cramp." The Rangers finished with 11 hits, including home runs by Sammy Sosa, Mark Teixeira and Diaz, but they weren't enough. "Our offense hasn't been getting the job done all year, so I don't consider that wasted," Teixeira said. "We've wasted a lot more good pitching nights than we have good offensive nights. "We know what's exactly going on. It's not surprising. If we have a good offensive night, we don't get good pitching. If we have good pitching, we don't have a good offensive night. That, and guys are dropping like flies. You do that and you're not going to win a lot of games. I think we have a very good idea of why we are losing."
Home runs by Sosa, the 597th of his career, and Diaz gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth. But the Devil Rays came back on four singles, a walk and a double-play ball that didn't get turned to take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the inning.The Rangers regained the lead immediately in the fifth on a run-scoring single by Michael Young and Teixeira's two-run home run. That gave the Rangers a 6-4 lead, but Padilla, again, couldn't hold it. Instead, the Devil Rays began the fifth with four straight singles by Ty Wiggington, Carlos Pena, Brendan Harris and Delmon Young to tie the game. Washington then went to left-hander A.J. Murray, making his Major League debut, in an attempt to keep it a tie game. It wasn't an ideal situation for Murray, but Joaquin Benoit was unavailable because of recent workload, Akinori Otsuka has been dealing with some arm tenderness and Washington didn't want to commit to C.J. Wilson that early. "We were hoping to get Padilla through six and not have to use the kids," Washington said. Murray got close but couldn't get that last pitch he needed. Dioner Navarro lined to left, then Murray walked Johnny Gomes to load the bases. Elijah Dukes popped out to short right for the second out, and Murray went to a full count on B.J. Upton. But Upton fouled off two pitches, then took a fastball high and away for ball four to force in a run. Murray did get 0-2 on Carl Crawford, but left a breaking pitch over the plate. Crawford jumped on it and hit it into the gap for a three-run triple to give the Devil Rays a 10-6 lead. "It was a tough situation," Washington said. "He got two outs and just had to make one more pitch. I thought he did great. That's the one pitch he didn't get done, and it cost us." Actually, this one slipped away before that.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.