Rangers can't cope with White Sox
Mendoza allows six runs on nine hits in four-plus innings
CHICAGO -- With the exception of Monday night's six-run performance, the Rangers' offense has sputtered out of the second-half gate, scoring two runs or fewer in four of their five games since the All-Star break.
Tuesday was no exception.
Mark Buehrle, pitching on three days' rest, shut down the Texas offense, holding the Rangers to just one run over 7 1/3 innings and going on to win, 10-2, at U.S. Cellular Field.
With Oakland's win over Tampa Bay, the Rangers' (52-49) stint in second place lasted only 24 hours, falling back into third in the American League West.
"There's no need to be concerned," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Pitching stops hitting. I keep saying that -- nobody's listening. Pitching stops hitting. How can you keep scoring seven runs a night? Nobody does that in this game of baseball. We'll be fine. Every now and then you face a pitcher that stops us. We're not the first team Buehrle did this to."
That may be true, but the last time Buehrle faced the Rangers he was even better. That was back on April 18, 2007, when he no-hit the Rangers at U.S. Cellular.
It seems safe to say: Buehrle has the Rangers' number.
"Today was just pretty tough," said outfielder Brandon Boggs, who was hitless in three at-bats against Buehrle. "He's a good pitcher. He doesn't work in the zone; he works off the plate and in the corners. Just gotta tip your hat to him. He did a good job today."
Even if the offense could have taken advantage of the few mistakes Buehrle made, it would have been difficult to overcome the 10 runs Texas pitching surrendered to the White Sox (56-43).
Rangers starter Luis Mendoza came out of the gate strong in the first inning, striking out the first two batters he faced. But with two outs, he walked Carlos Quentin and gave up a double to Jermaine Dye, giving the South Siders an early 1-0 lead.
"The first three innings he really had his good sinker working," Washington said. "The ball Jermaine hit down the line, that was OK. It happens. It was only one run in the first inning."
The floodgates opened in the fourth, though. Back-to-back singles to start the inning put two runners on for Nick Swisher, who sent the first pitch he saw over the right-center-field wall.
"He went out there in the fourth and got in trouble and couldn't do damage control," Washington said. "We got Swish coming up there ... You want to go to your good sinker right there, and [Mendoza] left it out over the plate."
Mendoza had posted his first career quality start and first victory as a starter this season in the Rangers' 7-2 win against these same White Sox on July 11. He also struck out eight and walked only one batter in that start.
"The fourth was the game for me," said Mendoza, who lasted just four-plus innings and surrendered six runs. "Just missed my spots."
The Rangers are 2-3 through five games of their nine-game road trip. They've scored only 11 runs since the All-Star break.
The White Sox have kept the Rangers' All-Stars extremely quiet in the first two games of the series. Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Milton Bradley and Josh Hamilton have gone a combined 6-for-33. On Monday, one of those hits was Hamilton's three-run homer that turned out to be the game-winner.
The top four hitters in the lineup will need to hit better than a collective .181 down the stretch if the Rangers intend to make a run, and Hamilton knows the offense will come around.
"If you look at the season in general, the day after off-days, we always come out flat," Hamilton said. "Four days off, it'll take a little longer to get back on track. We're not gonna do anything different.
"Without a doubt [we'll bounce back]. If you look at the beginning of the season, we came back from that, too. When it happens, it's gonna happen. And it's gonna happen soon."
The Rangers had an opportunity to score in the second when Hank Blalock hit a leadoff triple off the center-field wall.
Buehrle got Boggs and Chris Davis to ground out and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to pop out to end the threat without a run scoring.
"You got three young kids, and [Buehrle] took them to school," Washington said. "Got that fastball in on the hands, wouldn't allow him to extend. He's a good pitcher, and he knew he had some youth up there, and he used his experience to his advantage. He got out of it. Not a ball out of the infield.
"He certainly kept the ball off the fat part of the bat. He used his changeup and cutter effectively. Got to him, though."
Davis hit a leadoff home run in the eighth to score the lone run against Buehrle. He got the next hitter to ground out before White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen pulled him from the game.
"He's like Jamie Moyer," Hamilton said of Buehrle. "He's that type of pitcher with five or six more miles per hour on his fastball. And that's a compliment, because Jamie's been around a long time.
"He moves the ball well, hits spots well, cuts the ball, makes his pitches, and he works fast, too. You gotta slow him down sometimes. He did a great job. Kept us off-balance and they scored a lot of runs."
David Just is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.