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07/07/07 1:44 AM ET
Young lifts Rangers to win over O's
All-Star drives in game-winner with RBI single in the 10th
By Drew Davison / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- An All-Star veteran like Michael Young loves to be in pressure situations, but it seemed unlikely Friday night against Baltimore. Texas received six-plus shutout innings from starter Kameron Loe, and handed the ball to closer Eric Gagne with a one-run lead. Gagne was a perfect 11-for-11 in save opportunities -- until Friday. Gagne blew his first save of the season, when Baltimore's Brandon Fahey scored on a double by Brian Roberts in the ninth inning to tie the game at 3. Gagne was forgiven, however, when Young hit a game-winning single off Orioles reliever Paul Shuey to give the Rangers the 10-inning victory, 4-3, before 24,035 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Gagne had converted 30 straight saves, dating back to 2005. "Anytime we have him out there, we think we're going to win the game," Young said. "He's definitely spoiled us this season. We picked him up tonight like he has picked us up so many times before." Young is "Mr. Clutch," at least to third baseman Travis Metcalf, who witnessed Young's other walk-off hit June 9 against Milwaukee. But, it was the rookie Metcalf who started the 10th-inning rally with a double to right. Jerry Hairston bunted him over to second, and Ramon Vazquez drew a walk before Young drove Metcalf across home plate. "I'm beginning to feel more comfortable at the plate," Metcalf said. "I'm being more selective. But it all started with Kam, he was outstanding. He was the star of the game." Loe was impressive for the fifth consecutive game, going six-plus inning and allowing five hits and no runs. With an impressive sinker, Loe got 11 of the 19 batters he faced to ground out. The Rangers have gone 14-7 since Loe threw eight shutout innings against Pittsburgh on June 14. He was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma on June 9, when the rotation's ERA peaked at 7.00 and it appeared the Rangers were headed to the highest rotation ERA in the last 50 years. Loe had a 7.40 ERA at the time, but hasn't pitched like it. He has dominated his last five starts, going 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA during that stretch. The Rangers starting rotation ERA has dropped from 7.00 to 6.31 the past three weeks, and Loe deserves credit for getting the Rangers rolling in Pittsburgh with an improved sinker. "I'm trying to stay with my approach using offspeed pitches," Loe said. "My sinker was getting better throughout the game." Loe left in the seventh inning Friday after surrendering a lead off double to Chris Gomez. As Loe headed to the dugout, he received a standing ovation. "That was very nice," Loe said after the game. "It was a tight game the whole way, and I knew I'd have to throw up some zeros." The two most impressive "zeros" Loe threw up were in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, the Orioles had runners on second and third with one out, but stranded both. With the bases loaded in the fifth, Loe struck out Kevin Millar to end the threat. "That was a big part of the game," manager Ron Washington said of the Millar strikeout. "We didn't want to give them a shot, and Kam got the cowboy out." The Rangers got on the board in the third inning to take the lead, 1-0, when Metcalf scored on a Ramon Vazquez sacrifice fly. Brad Wilkerson continued his tear at the plate with a two-run home run to right field in the sixth to give the Rangers a three-run lead. Baltimore bounced back in the seventh, scoring two runs on a double from Nick Markakis. It easily could have been three runs and a tie game after a questionable call by home plate umpire Brian Knight earlier in the inning, when he called Gomez out at the plate on an unassisted play by Rangers catcher Adam Melhuse. C.J. Wilson came in relief, and threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded and Markakis up. Gomez tried to score on the play, but the ball bounced back to Melhuse and it was a race to the front edge of home plate. "I tell you what, on that play, I've seen the replay and I see that I missed the call," Knight said. "On that kind of play, I was fighting to get the best position I could get and I called what I saw at the moment." Crew chief Tim Welke said, "I thought he was in great position and then the pitcher came in front of him. That's just a bad break." A tough break just for the Orioles, though. The baseball gods have been with the Rangers ever since Loe footed the hill in Pittsburgh.
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.