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05/09/08 3:50 AM ET
Red-hot bullpen carries Rangers to win
Texas relief pitchers extend scoreless streak to 24 innings
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- The Mariners were able to knock Rangers starter Kason Gabbard out of the game in the fourth inning on Thursday night at Safeco Field. That didn't prevent the Texas pitching staff from throwing a second straight shutout. The scorching-hot bullpen saw to that. Relievers Franklyn German, Jamey Wright, Eddie Guardado and Frankie Francisco combined for 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief that allowed the Rangers to finish off a 5-0 victory over the Mariners. Combine that with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday, and the Rangers have thrown back-to-back shutouts for the first time since Sept. 18-19, 2007, in Anaheim. Texas pitchers have not allowed a run in their last 22 innings and just one in their last 32. "It's all about pitching, and these guys are doing a great job," Rangers catcher Gerald Laird said. The Rangers finished their road trip with a three-game winning streak and a 5-2 record during their week-long visit to Oakland and Seattle. Overall, they've won nine of their last 13 games heading into a nine-game homestand that starts Friday night against the Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Rangers pitchers have a 3.49 ERA over the last 13 games, lowering the staff ERA from 5.54 to 4.80 on the season. "The bullpen was outstanding tonight," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It was tough because we had to piece five innings together, but they did a great job." German picked up the victory after Gabbard had to come out of the game with bruised legs, the result of his fourth-inning altercation with Mariners first baseman Richie Sexson. "Gabbard was going pretty good," Washington said. "He was pounding the strike zone and getting ground balls. Then he got caught underneath that pile." Gabbard allowed two hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. The four relievers that followed allowed just two hits, no walks and struck out five. Rangers relievers now have gone 24 innings of their own without allowing a run and have a 3.05 ERA in the last 13 games. Prior to that, the bullpen had a staggering 6.83 ERA, mainly because Rangers relievers allowed 39 runs in 29 1/3 innings during the seven-game losing streak in Boston and Detroit. "We ran through a little stretch where we quit throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys," Wright said. "That's what we've been concentrating on as a group -- throwing strikes and challenging hitters. It's tough to play defense when you're walking people, but right now guys are throwing the ball well."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.