Rangers hang on late to take Game 1
Bullpen struggles; Vazquez, Kinsler combine for seven RBIs
NEW YORK -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, standing outside his team's clubhouse between games, managed a weak smile."Just like we drew it up," Daniels said. Manager Ron Washington, his team one hit away from blowing what was a six-run lead with six outs to go, couldn't even manage a smile after his team had barely hung in there for a tension-racked 8-7 victory over the Mets in Game 1 of Sunday's doubleheader.
"My stomach can finally go back into my stomach," Washington said after watching the Mets score five runs in the final two innings before C.J. Wilson finally closed out Game 1 by getting Damon Easley on a fly ball to left field.The Rangers led 8-2 going into the eighth and were able to hang on by their fingernails for a victory that was, well, dramatic, tiring, exhilarating ... "All of those," outfielder Milton Bradley said. "It was just good to get a win. All the drama that's surrounding New York, you knew the crowd was going to be in it and getting behind their team. We just stuck together and got a big victory." By hanging on at the end, the Rangers were able to help starter Kevin Millwood snap his 10-game losing streak over 14 starts on the road. His last victory away from Arlington also came on Father's Day last year in Cincinnati. "I hope I can win more games on the road than just Father's Day, unless they make this a weekly thing," Millwood said. "Maybe it's a National League thing. It wasn't the best of outings, but I was able to make pitches when I needed to and get out of some jams." Millwood lasted six innings and 116 pitches, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks. He is now 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA in his four starts since returning from a 20-day stint on the disabled list because of his right groin injury. Ramon Vazquez had three hits, including a two-run homer and a two-run single, and Ian Kinsler drove in three runs with a single and two-run homer of his own. Bradley added a home run in the top of the eighth and the Rangers seemed to have everything in control with an 8-2 lead. Instead, things got quite sticky and uncomfortable for the Rangers in the bottom of the eighth. The Mets scored three off Frank Francisco and Eddie Guardado to make it 8-5 and had the bases loaded with one out in the inning. Jose Reyes followed with a medium fly ball to right that Bradley caught, then threw out catcher Brian Schneider, who was trying to tag up and score, at the plate for a double play that brought the rally to an end. "I knew he was going to try and score," Bradley said. "But it worked out perfectly. The ball came down at the right depth and height, and I was able to get behind it and make a good throw." The tension picked right back up when Wilson took over in the ninth. Luis Castillo led off the ninth with a single to left. Wilson then walked David Wright and Carlos Beltran lined a single to left to score Castillo. Wilson got Carlos Delgado to hit into a double play, moving Wright to third, but then walked Trot Nixon. Ramon Castro, after Wilson got ahead 1-2, singled to center to make it an 8-7 game. But Wilson, with runners at first and second, finally ended it by getting Easley on a high fly to left to end the game. "Abner Doubleday invented the game and he knew what he was doing," Washington said. "When you get past the seventh, those last six outs aren't easy to get. They sent up some pretty good experienced hitters, and they did a god job against our young pitchers. "It was tough. We're going into the eighth inning with a six-run lead. I don't want to go with Eddie there. We've got another game to play. Eddie did a good job minimizing it. The main thing with C.J. is he got three outs."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.