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04/22/07 12:55 AM ET
Roommates spark Rangers
Loe, Wilson combine to lead Texas over Oakland
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Kameron Loe, a 6-foot-8 right-hander, and C.J. Wilson, a 6-foot-1 left-hander, share an apartment in downtown Dallas. Doubtful they have much to talk about. Loe claims kickboxing as a hobby, loves the Ultimate Fighting Championship and has a pet boa constrictor. Wilson is a surfer who studies Taoism and plays the guitar. But they definitely had something in common on Saturday night, something they could talk about for hours late into the night and the early morning hours. Tough pitching. Loe pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings, and Wilson pitched out of the biggest jam of the game, allowing the Rangers to snap a three-game losing streak with a 7-0 victory over the Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Loe left the game with a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Wilson took over with two on and one out, walked Nick Swisher to load the bases and then struck out Eric Chavez and Milton Bradley to end the threat. It was the biggest moment of the night. "Kam and I have a pretty good track record when he and I pitch in the same game," Wilson said. "When he pitches, I'm watching extra carefully as a roommate and a teammate. When either one of us pitches, we like to talk about what happened and we have a lot to talk about tonight." They can begin by talking about Loe's first start of the season. The Rangers were anxious to get some innings out of him after Brandon McCarthy lasted just one inning the night before, and Loe gave them what they needed. "Exactly," manager Ron Washington said. "He did the same thing he did in Arizona. He pounded the strike zone, kept the ball down and kept it in play." Loe allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five. "I went as long as I could and as hard as I could," Loe said. "My focus was on strike one, getting hitters in defensive counts. I was getting ground balls and throwing my curve for strikes." Loe had a 0.92 ERA in Arizona during Spring Training, but the Rangers still felt at the start of the season that he could help them more in the bullpen. That changed when Jamey Wright went on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, and now Loe pitches to prove he belongs in the rotation permanently. "I know I have to prove myself again and prove that I belong in the five-man rotation," Loe said. "That's definitely a little pressure, but I welcome it." Wilson also felt some pressure on Saturday night. Loe started the sixth inning with a single to Mark Ellis and a walk to Adam Melhuse, and then both runners moved up as Shannon Stewart grounded out to third base. That's when Washington brought in Wilson, and he heightened the tension by walking Swisher to load the bases. But he came back to strike out Chavez on a 2-2 pitch and Bradley after falling behind him 3-1, then the left-hander danced off the mound pumping his fist. He was not the only one showing emotion. "That was huge," Loe said. "That really pumped me up. When he came back in the dugout, I gave him a big high-five." It was big for Wilson, personally. The Rangers always have loved his stuff, but he hasn't yet worked his way up to the upper level of the bullpen echelon. This was his sixth appearance of the season, but the first in a game the Rangers ended up winning. "He can be that type of impact reliever," Washington said. "He's got some good stuff, but I just want him to do what I tell everybody -- throw the ball in the strike zone and see what happens." Wilson kept the Rangers ahead, and they broke it open late. Jerry Hairston had a sacrifice fly in the seventh to make it 2-0, and Matt Kata hit a three-run home run in the eighth. Kata was 2-for-3, and Nelson Cruz, who came into the game in a 2-for-21 slump, went 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI single. All of this came one night after a 16-4 loss to the Athletics, marking the fourth-largest reduction in runs from one game to the next in Rangers history. At the end of the 2000 season, they allowed 23 runs to Oakland one afternoon and three the next. In 2005, the Rangers lost to the Royals, 17-8, on Sept. 4, and then beat the Twins, 7-0, the next day, marking the most runs they have given up the game before throwing a shutout. Such trivia aside, the Rangers felt good after this one. "It was a good test," Washington said. "We hung in there and grinded it out. I'm proud of them."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.