Wood provides spark for Rangers
Righty goes five scoreless, backed by Sosa's two-run hit
OAKLAND -- Mike Wood lived dangerously all night, and he knew it."You're not lying," he said with a smile. "But I'll take it." The Rangers will, too. Their six-game losing streak is over, and it took a shutout from their pitching staff to do it. Wood did most of the work, pitching five scoreless innings despite allowing five hits and five walks, and the Rangers rewarded him with a four-run sixth that gave them a 4-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics at McAfee Coliseum on Tuesday night. "We finally put a solid game together," manager Ron Washington said after shortstop Michael Young's dazzling ninth-inning defensive stop with the bases loaded snuffed out the Athletics' final threat. In the A's clubhouse, manager Bob Geren shook his head and said, "I've never see a game where you hit the ball that hard and walk that many times and don't score. That's very unusual at any level." Oakland starter Lenny DiNardo was just as good as Wood for five innings. But the Rangers rewarded Wood for his effort by scoring four runs in the sixth and relievers C.J. Wilson, Joaquin Benoit and Eric Gagne made it stand up. Wood is still expected to be optioned back to Triple-A Oklahoma, because the Rangers need a spot on the roster for John Koronka, their starter on Wednesday against the Athletics. "He did what he normally does," Washington said. "I had no problem believing he would get us into the sixth, and he did. If he's around the plate, he'll get ground balls."
Wood did just that in some very difficult situations, particularly in the first after walking three straight hitters with two outs to load the bases. Just when it looked like the Rangers were going to be trailing again from the beginning, Wood was able to get Bobby Crosby on a grounder to third baseman Matt Kata to end the threat.
"It was weird," Wood said. "I came out of the chute overthrowing. I was a little excited. It was tough. I had almost 30 pitches in the first inning, and I knew we needed innings. After the first inning I was able to pick it up."
Wood was able to retire the side in order just once, and the Athletics had at least two baserunners on in each of the four other innings. But all five hits were singles. Only once did he allow the leadoff hitter of an inning to reach base, and the Athletics were 0-for-4 against him with runners in scoring position.Wood, a 10th-round pick by Oakland in the 2001 draft, is now 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA in four career games, including three starts against the Athletics. "The good thing was when DiNardo put up a zero, Woody put up a zero," Washington said. "When your offense is sluggish, that's what your pitcher has to do -- just keep matching innings and pretty soon something good will happen." That's exactly what happened in the top of the sixth. Matt Kata started the Rangers' rally by drawing a four-pitch walk. Ian Kinsler then tried to push a bunt past DiNardo and instead hit it right at him. DiNardo had double play on his mind, or at least a force at second, but fumbled the ball for an error. "I was trying for a base hit and get the runner over," Kinsler said. "I'll take it." That gave the Rangers runners at first and second, and they both moved up on DiNardo's wild pitch. They stayed put as Young grounded out to third baseman Eric Chavez, and Mark Teixeira was intentionally walked to load the bases. That brought up Sammy Sosa, and the Athletics had right-hander Colby Lewis ready in the bullpen. But Geren stayed with DiNardo, who had struck out Sosa in the second and got him to hit into a double play in the fourth. "I liked how Lenny pitched Sosa," Geren said. "It was a 0-0 game and I felt it was Lenny's game to win." This time, Sosa smacked a single through the left-side hole. Two runs scored, and Teixeira came around as well when left fielder Shannon Stewart let the ball get past him for an error. "This game is about adjustments," Sosa said. "He was pitching great. I just went up there trying to be patient and get something good to hit. The pressure's not on me; it's on him. I just want to make contact." Sosa ended up at second on the play and scored on a two-out single by Marlon Byrd. "A big two-out hit," Washington said. "We haven't been getting many of those lately."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.