Lee goes distance, but Rangers fall short
Nine stranded in lefty's AL-best seventh complete game
ANAHEIM -- Cliff Lee's numbers, or at the least his win-loss record, have belied his performance all season.
Besides the two runs he allowed in the first inning at Angel Stadium on Sunday, the Rangers ace was his usual eight-inning, complete-game self. The unintentional walk he issued was out of the ordinary -- it was his first in 42 1/3 innings and his first since joining Texas -- but that speaks only to how incredible his season has been.
Again, though, the run support wasn't there. The Halos took the rubber match of a three-game set, 4-1, dropping Lee's overall record to 9-5 and his mark with the Rangers to 1-2.
After delivering an eighth consecutive start of eight innings or more, the longest streak in the Majors since 1996, Lee deferred when asked about his offense leaving the bases loaded in the third, and nine runners on total.
"You got to talk to the guys that did that," Lee said. "My job is to get the other hitters out. I don't hit, so that's out of my control."
The frustration was there for David Murphy, but not because the Rangers lost two of three to the defending American League West champions, a team they don't meet again until Sept. 20 in Anaheim for seven of the final 14 regular-season games. Texas isn't thinking that far ahead.
"It's still a dogfight," Murphy said. "We have a good lead, we are where we want to be, but why not add to it?"
"All I'm thinking about is Tuesday for Seattle," manager Ron Washington said. "No telling what might happen by the time we get to those games. We get to those games and we still got an eight-game lead, I'll tell you then."
Murphy's frustration also wasn't born out of his 0-for-4 performance Sunday against ace Jered Weaver, not on the fact that he went hitless alone. It was the inability to at least make a productive out.
Murphy came up with the bases loaded, one out and the Angels leading, 2-0, in the third. He even got the pitch he was looking for, but flied out to right. Vladimir Guerrero flied out to end the inning.
"The curveball," Murphy said. "It was down, but it was middle of the plate, and I didn't wait quite long enough. I don't really expect to get a hit every single at-bat. I know I'm going to go 0-for at times in this game. But like that third inning, I got to at least get a run in there. There are so many different things I could to do be productive. To not get anything done is more than frustrating."
The Rangers caught a break in the sixth when Michael Young reached second with none out because of an error by third baseman Alberto Callaspo. Murphy popped out to second base instead of advancing the runner. One batter later, Guerrero's RBI double provided some redemption.
Young himself couldn't capitalize on the Rangers' last decent scoring opportunity, with two in scoring position and two outs in the seventh. Weaver got him swinging on his 115th pitch and the eighth of the at-bat.
"We keep getting guys on out there, we like our chances," Young said.
The league's leading strikeout artist with 162, Weaver had seven on Sunday. He allowed as many hits (four) and walks (three) combined.
"I think we had three chances to cash some runs in on them and [Weaver] made some pitches, got out of it," Washington said. "We had the part of the lineup we wanted up there and he still got out of it. Got to give credit where credit is due, they beat us. I don't think we gave them any of those runs they scored."
Lee's eighth unintentional walk of the season with one out in the eighth inning came on five pitches to Callaspo, and it led to the Angels' fourth run on a sacrifice fly. He allowed nine hits and struck out four in his AL-leading seventh complete game of the season.
He's not winning, but he's pitching wonderfully.
"It's stupid," Weaver said with a smile of Lee's ability go deep. "You don't see that too often. He's impressive and a proven guy. It's weird seeing him hop around teams because you'd think somebody would want to lock him up."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.