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08/16/08 2:01 AM ET
Rangers shut out by Garza in opener
Offense gets two hits, held scoreless for second straight game
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers didn't dig themselves into an early hole on Friday night, but they waited around long enough until they found themselves in one. Going hitless for 5 2/3 innings will do that. That's what happened to Texas against Matt Garza as Tampa Bay slugged its way to a 7-0 victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "We're definitely not playing good right now," Ian Kinsler said. "Not to take anything away from the last two pitchers we've faced, but this team, with this offense, shouldn't be shut out." The shutout was Texas' second in a row, after Thursday's 10-0 loss in Boston, and second straight at home, going back to a 3-0 loss to the Yankees on Aug. 7. The Rangers, who still boast the highest-scoring offense in the Major Leagues, have been shut out four times in their past eight games. This time around, Texas was held in check by Garza, who allowed three runs in four innings when he pitched at Rangers Ballpark on June 8 earlier this season. Garza went the distance on Friday, allowing just four baserunners while striking out nine. "He pitched a great game tonight," Kinsler said. "He threw down in the zone very well and when he threw up, he threw it with enough movement to miss our barrels." Through five innings, Texas had hit just three balls out of the infield and all three were caught in the air. Not until Kinsler snuck a blooper off the glove of a diving Justin Ruggiano -- who replaced B.J. Upton that half-inning in center field -- did the Rangers tally their first hit of the night. The ball was catchable, even though Ruggiano was diving, but it was ruled a hit nevertheless. Josh Hamilton left no doubt, though, as to the status of Garza's no-hit bid with a solid single up the middle the next inning. But neither hit provided any spark for the Rangers, who have scored just three runs in their past 28 innings at home and no runs in their last 19 innings. "When somebody has stuff like that, it's very tough," Byrd said. "I think he threw about seven or eight pitches that were mistakes. When a guy throws like that, you just hope your guy can throw up zeroes, too." Kevin Millwood put up zeroes the first three innings, but the Rays put on a power display the next two. Willy Aybar put the first run of the game up with a solo home run in the fourth inning that just cleared the right-field wall and hugged inside the foul pole. Byrd attempted to rein in the home run at the wall and wound up hyperextending his left elbow on the play when he reached over the wall. Byrd didn't leave until after the fifth inning. X-rays on the elbow were negative and he is listed as day-to-day. "His last at-bat, you could tell he was favoring it," manager Ron Washington said. "We had to take him out." Things only worsened for Millwood in the fifth inning. Millwood notched his first strikeout of the game when he sat down Carlos Pena on a full count in the first inning. Pena worked a full count again in the fifth, but didn't leave empty handed, blasting a line drive 393 feet into the right-field seats. Millwood, making his first start since being placed on the disabled list with a strained right groin on July 24, served up two more home runs in the inning before he departed. The 20,223 in attendance had little patience for Millwood, who became the fourth straight Rangers starting pitcher unable to last five innings, booing him more with each home run. Millwood said his groin played no part in his poor start. "I wasn't good," Millwood said. "It seemed like any time I missed, they hit it hard." In his 4 2/3 innings, Millwood allowed the Rays' first five runs on 10 hits and a walk while he tied a season high with seven strikeouts. The four home runs surrendered tied a career high. Millwood is now 0-3 in his last four starts while the Rangers are 1-8 in their last nine games. "We've got to get this thing turned around and I thought tonight would have been a good night to do that, but it didn't work out that way," Millwood said.
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.