Wilson puts Rangers back in win column
Left-hander scatters four singles over 6 2/3 scoreless frames
BOSTON -- C.J. Wilson earned his first victory as a starter. Darren Oliver earned his first save in almost 16 years.
And the Rangers? Well, it's been a week since they've been able to thoroughly enjoy the postgame buffet in the visitors' clubhouse, but on Thursday night, they were able to do just that.
"It's nice to be able to smile again," manager Ron Washington said after Wilson, Oliver and Darren O'Day combined to pitch the Rangers to a 3-0 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
"Definitely huge," said Nelson Cruz, who drove in Texas' first run with an RBI single in the seventh. "We needed this one and we got a great game from C.J. That's what we needed."
The Rangers' three pitchers combined to hold the Red Sox to six hits while pitching the staff's first shutout of the season and ending the team's six-game losing streak.
"It's nice to get a win," third baseman Michael Young said. "More importantly, it's a game we play well in: pitching, defense and the big hit. Tonight got us back to the drawing board."
Wilson outdueled Boston starter Clay Buchholz. The two matched scoreless frames for six innings before Texas finally broke through with three runs in the seventh.
"That was awesome," Wilson said. "In order for us to win as many games as feel we can as a team, we need to win games like this. Tonight was great."
Wilson, in his third start of the season, went 6 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out two. The southpaw was having trouble throwing his curve and changeup for strikes, but he made up for it by pounding the strike zone with his sinker and cut fastball.
"He was pounding," Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez said. "He was able to keep us off-balance."
Wilson kept Boston off balance not by changing speeds but by throwing his two different fastballs for strikes on both sides of the plate. Thirteen of his 20 outs were the result of ground balls, including a nifty double play started by second baseman Andres Blanco in the second.
"It's a good lesson for me," Wilson said. "Even if I don't have my offspeed stuff, I can still attack the zone on both sides of the plate."
The Rangers had just two hits through six innings before breaking through in the seventh. Josh Hamilton led off with a double and scored on Cruz's single. Cruz then stole second and scored on a double by David Murphy.
Chris Davis moved Murphy to third with a grounder to the right side before Buchholz struck out Taylor Teagarden. That gave him a chance to get out of the inning, but Blanco dropped a bunt down the first-base line and beat it out for a hit as Buchholz's throw sailed past first baseman Kevin Youkilis. Murphy scored to make it 3-0.
"That was a pretty smart play," Washington said. "That's why we got Blanco."
Wilson left the game after giving up a couple of hits in the seventh. With two on and two out, O'Day retired Darnell McDonald, who hit a walk-off homer vs. Texas on Tuesday night, on a grounder to third to end the inning.
The Rangers still needed six more outs and weren't going to get them with closer Neftali Feliz. Washington said before the game that he would use Feliz if needed. But Feliz, who pitched two innings the night before, told Washington after batting practice he didn't feel ready to go.
"We didn't worry about it," Washington said.
O'Day allowed a single to start the eighth and retired Marco Scutaro on a fly ball to center. Washington then brought in Oliver, who struck out J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia to end the inning. Washington had Chris Ray warmed up in the ninth, but Oliver dispatched the Red Sox in order, getting Mike Lowell to hit into a game-ending double play.
This was Oliver's third save of his career and his first since July 25, 1994, when he was a rookie with the Rangers. He had gone 497 games, including 268 relief appearances, in that span and was 0-for-4 in save opportunities.
Oliver didn't think it was a big deal.
"No," he said. "We won the game. It's all about winning. It's not like I was going for a milestone, going for 300 saves. Our closer was down and Wash needed somebody to finish the game. It was important to get the win. I'm happy for C.J., really happy."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.