Triple play doesn't pay off in Texas loss
Cruz homers late but rally comes up short behind Harrison
DETROIT -- Ten losses and counting.
The Rangers' 10 consecutive losses at Comerica Park, which established a club record for the longest losing streak at an opposing park, have come in a variety of ways.
Their latest loss had two main ingredients: they gave up four crucial runs in the decisive sixth inning and they couldn't capitalize on chances against Tigers ace Justin Verlander and Detroit's high-octane bullpen.
Mix them together and you get a 5-3 defeat on Wednesday night before 23,417 fans at Comerica Park. The Rangers have lost two straight after winning seven in a row.
This, despite the fact that they turned just the fifth triple play in Rangers history in the fourth.
Brandon Inge's double and a four-pitch walk to Ryan Raburn put the runners on for Detroit in the fourth, which had a chance to break open its early 1-0 lead against Matt Harrison. Up came former Rangers catcher Gerald Laird, who just broke out of a hitting slump over the weekend.
After Laird fouled off a bunt attempt on the first pitch, Tigers manager Jim Leyland sent the runners in motion, setting up the extra outs when Laird lined out sharply to second baseman Ian Kinsler, who flipped the ball to shorstop Elvis Andrus to tag second base for the second out on Inge. Once Andrus crossed the bag, he had a mere few steps to go to tag Raburn for the third out.
But the play was just a highlight in a game during which the Rangers were shut down time and again by Verlander.
"Verlander is a quality pitcher, and we were one hit from knocking him out of that ballgame a few times, and we couldn't get it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He earned it tonight, because his offense came back and put some runs on the board. We worked him, and he fought.
"At least we broke through. We put some runs on the board, and we got some hits, and maybe tomorrow we'll put it all together."
The Tigers scored four in the sixth inning off Harrison on a 430-foot solo home run from recent callup Wilkin Ramirez, a two-run shot from Inge and reliever Jason Jennings' wild pitch.
Harrison entered this game as one of baseball's hottest starters. In his previous four outings, he went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA, including two complete games. He needed just 213 pitches to complete both of those games.
The southpaw needed 94 on Wednesday to finish five innings, in which he allowed five earned runs on nine hits.
He gave up three home runs after allowing just four in his previous seven starts.
"I was battling the whole game to get ahead of guys," said Harrison, who lost his first start since April 17. "I didn't have my fastball location -- wasn't hitting my spots.
"I made a bad pitch to Ramirez there. I gave him something to hit, when the whole stadium knew he was in swing mode. And I thought I made a pretty good pitch to Inge, but he got enough of it to get it up in the air and get it out. Overall, though, being behind [in the count] was the biggest part of it."
Verlander no-hit the Rangers through four innings, but he needed 41 pitches to escape the fifth. That's when catcher Taylor Teagarden laced an RBI single to left field to make it 1-all.
But Verlander stranded the bases loaded.
"Obviously that was a big turning point in the game for us to be able to keep us in a tie game," Verlander said, "and we stepped it up there in the bottom of the sixth against a tough pitcher."
Detroit's ace returned for the sixth with a pitch count over 100. The Rangers then went down 1-2-3.
"He's pretty good," Kinsler said of Verlander. "He got through the first four innings pretty easily, but we made him work a little bit and got his pitch count up there. He still went out there after 100 pitches. He definitely battled tonight."
Verlander, who had a 1.21 ERA and registered double-digit strikeouts in his past three starts, allowed one run on three hits in six innings, while striking out eight.
"You got to understand -- it was Verlander out there," Washington said. "We expected him to run the ball up there and challenge us, and he went to his offspeed stuff, which is something he definitely has."
Aside from marooning the bases loaded in the fifth, the Rangers left a runner on third in the seventh. They loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth against Detroit fireballer Joel Zumaya, but they managed only one run and left another runner at third.
The Rangers went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"We tried to come back, and we fought hard," Washington said. "We had some opportunities, but they were tough opportunities.
"We had the bases loaded against Zumaya, and he's out there throwing 100 mph, and we scratched a run off him. And we had Verlander on the ropes a few times, and we just couldn't get that hit.
"If we could have minimized that damage in that sixth inning," Washington continued, "I think it would've been a different game, but that's baseball."
Scott McNeish is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.