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09/14/07 2:39 AM ET
Rangers rally falls short in Oakland
Game too close for rookie reliever Galarraga to make debut
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- After nine years in the Minor Leagues, Armando Galarraga was ready to make his Major League debut. The Rangers trailed 6-1 going into the top of the seventh, and Galarraga was warmed up and ready to go in the bullpen. It would have been a nice reward for the 25-year-old Venezuelan, who went from winning one game in the Minor Leagues in 2006 to 11 games this season before being called up earlier in the week. He never got to the mound. Turns out the Rangers didn't need a mop-up pitcher. They needed just one more clutch hit, but didn't get it. After Galarraga sat down in the bullpen, the Rangers saw their seventh-inning rally fizzle and they lost to the Oakland Athletics, 6-5, at McAfee Coliseum Friday night. The Rangers have lost three straight games and are two games behind the Athletics in the battle for third place in the American League West. The Rangers still have designs on finishing ahead of the Athletics and still have three games left in this four-game set. "We're going to," outfielder Marlon Byrd said of catching Oakland. "We're going to come back and win this series and finish strong, playing like we have been." The Rangers didn't play particularly well in this one. Starter Kevin Millwood allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings and manager Ron Washington wasn't too happy with an offense that was 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Millwood took the blame though, saying, "I didn't pitch good enough for us to win tonight." He put the Rangers in a hole right away by giving up a two-run double to Jack Cust in the first and opponents are now hitting .361 off him in the first inning this year. "I don't remember it being like it has been this year," Millwood said. "It seems like that's been the inning that bites me right out of the gate. I just didn't throw good pitches. I left the ball up. I thought my stuff was good, I just didn't throw it in good spots." Jason Botts hit his second home run of the season in the second inning off Oakland starter Chad Gaudin, but Millwood gave up a two-run home run to Nick Swisher in the third. Two more scored in the fifth and Millwood left trailing 6-1. He is now 9-12 with a 5.51 ERA on the season. The Rangers looked like they were going to go quietly in the night, and that's why Washington had Galarraga warming up to pitch the seventh. But he also had John Rheinecker warming up in case the Rangers came back and that's exactly what happened. They just didn't come back far enough. Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off with a single, Ramon Vazquez doubled and they both scored on Frank Catalanotto's single to left. After reliever Santiago Casilla plunked Ian Kinsler, Michael Young doubled into the right-center-field gap to bring home both runners and make it a 6-5 game. Young, who had three hits and extended his hitting streak to 13 games, almost went for a triple but decided to play it safe with a double. That was when Galarraga sat down in the bullpen. "I was really excited," Galarraga said. "But I knew I wasn't going to go in there if it was close, so I wasn't disappointed." Young never got off second. Instead, Byrd grounded to third, Botts popped to left and, after Hank Blalock walked, David Murphy flied to right to end the inning. "We were real close," Byrd said. "I had a chance to move Mike over early in the count and I didn't do it. That hurt." That wasn't the only chance the Rangers had. After Botts led off the second with a home run, Blalock doubled down the right-field line. Murphy moved him to third, but the Athletics moved the infield in for Saltalamacchia and he grounded out to short. Vazquez struck out to end the inning. The Rangers also could not score runs after Botts and Blalock led off the fourth with a pair of hits. Murphy forced Blalock with a grounder to second and Saltalamacchia hit into an inning-ending double play. "We just didn't do a good job of getting runners in," Washington said. The Rangers were good enough to keep Galarraga from coming into the game, but not good enough to win.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.