Rangers suffer series-ending loss at home
Cubs' first-inning runs off Wilson put Texas in deep hole
ARLINGTON -- C.J. Wilson was about as good as the Rangers could have hoped for in his first seven starts of the season.He broke the franchise record for consecutive quality starts to begin a season, capping the streak at seven before finally seeing it fall. He had an ERA of 1.48 during that stretch, and the Rangers had won each of his last six starts entering Sunday's game.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
But all of that came undone as Wilson surrendered a four-run first inning that the Rangers were unable to come back from, falling, 5-4, to the Cubs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.Wilson's ERA over the last two games is 10.80, as the left-hander has given up 12 earned runs in his last 10 2/3 innings. Ryan Theriot and Starlin Castro led off the game with consecutive singles, with Castro's coming on a bunt attempt that he beat out for a hit. Derrek Lee followed with an RBI single and Marlon Byrd brought home Castro on an groundout before Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer to left, staking the Cubs to a 4-0 lead. Wilson said the pitch was supposed to be a knuckleball, but he threw a fastball instead. "It's kind of batty," Wilson said. "Usually my problem is I threw too many balls, but I threw too many strikes [today]. I got 0-2 on three guys and gave up hits. It's kind of a weird thing. I learned my lesson after that and settled down." It was Wilson's third home run surrendered in his last two outings after compiling 87 2/3 homerless innings dating back to last season. He gave up two in the fourth against the Angels on Tuesday before giving up the two-run shot to Soriano on Sunday. It capped a first inning in which Wilson endured some hard luck, as the Cubs were able to capitalize on softly hit balls before Soriano got a hold of his ninth homer of the year. "You get 0-2 and the dude hits a bleeder through the infield. Then you get 0-2 and the dude hits another bleeder through the infield," Wilson said. "It's just maybe throwing too many strikes and bad bounces. The Soriano ball was an 0-2 pitch, as well, and I didn't throw a very effective pitch." Wilson finished having pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. Despite the rough start, Wilson was able to bear down and pitch four more effective innings. Going into the sixth, he had retired 14 of 17 batters. But that's when bad luck struck him for the second time on the afternoon. The Rangers had pulled within a run at 4-3. Michael Young drilled the first pitch he saw over the center-field wall for a two-run homer in the third, and Julio Borbon added a two-out RBI single through the left side of the infield in the fourth. But after walking Soriano to lead off the inning, Wilson gave up a bloop single to Xavier Nady that dropped just between first baseman Justin Smoak and right fielder Nelson Cruz to put runners on first and second with no outs. After recording outs on a flyout and a fielder's choice, Wilson gave up an RBI single to Koyie Hill before seeing his day end. The ball dropped right in front of Cruz, who threw home to catcher Matt Treanor. It was a bang-bang play at the plate, but umpire Jerry Meals ruled Nady safe at home. Manager Ron Washington came out to argue the call, but it was upheld. "It was close. I thought he was out, but it turns out he stuck his hand in there," Wilson said. "But you can't really be hoping for your outfielders to throw up your luck to get outs. You've got to be getting the hitter to pop up or ground out or whatever. That's the goal." It was tough luck for Wilson, who had responded impressively after the difficult first inning. "He gave up the four runs and went back to work. He did a great job," Young said. "He went out there and battled. We kind of chipped away, but [Carlos] Silva was throwing the ball well. We chipped away, trying to see if we could get some runs, but it just was not enough in the end." With the Rangers facing a two-run deficit, the offense built a rally in the seventh. Young collected his third RBI of the day on a double to left-center, scoring Borbon from second and pulling the Rangers within a run once again. But Texas loaded the bases. Josh Hamilton lined a two-out pitch at second baseman Ryan Theriot to end the inning. The Rangers had another chance an inning later, as Matt Treanor drew a two-out walk with Borbon coming up. Borbon was 2-for-3 with an RBI up to that point, but Washington elected to go with pinch-hitter David Murphy, who worked the count full before striking out. "I was looking for a bomb. With all of the guys I had, I felt like he was the one that could catch something," Washington said. "And if he didn't catch it, he could do what he did, get the count close and draw a walk." The Cubs were able to hold on from there, taking two of three from the Rangers after losing in the opener, 2-1, on Friday. The loss marked the Rangers' first series defeat at home since opening weekend, when the Blue Jays took two of three at the Ballpark.
Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.