04/14/09 1:41 AM ET
Rangers come up short vs. O's
Jones leads late rally with two-run homer in seventh
By Todd Wills / Special to MLB.com
Vicente Padilla walked the leadoff hitter and gave up five straight run-scoring singles after taking a 4-2 lead to the mound in the top of the fourth.
Marlon Byrd and Nelson Cruz misplayed balls in the outfield. Scott Feldman gave up his third home run in two games.
But it's always the last mistake that sticks out the most.
It's always easier to point out who made the error -- in this case second baseman Ian Kinsler -- after the Rangers lost its fourth straight game after opening the season with a 3-0 record.
Trailing 10-9 in the bottom of the ninth, Kinsler started off the inning with a remarkable at-bat, realizing that Orioles closer George Sherrill was pitching him away and away. Kinsler reached out on a 2-2 pitch and laced it down the right-field line for a leadoff double.
The rally continued with Michael Young, who lifted a line drive into the right-center field corner, where the Rangers' bullpen connects to the right-field bleachers. For a second, it looked like it might be a walk-off home run as Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis went back on the ball.
"I knew I didn't catch it all," Young said. "I was just hoping it would go over his head."
Kinsler started back to second like he's supposed to, and then thinking it was going over Markakis's head -- like everyone else in the ballpark -- he started sprinting to third. By the time Kinsler realized Markakis was going to flag it down, it was too late to tag up from second.
As you would expect, Josh Hamilton followed with a fly ball to center field, almost certainly deep enough to score Kinsler.
Manager Ron Washington said after the game "it was a tough call."
Kinsler said his manager was just being nice.
"I need to be on third base there," Kinsler said.
"You have to keep yourself in position to tag and go over," Washington said. "It didn't happen."
The Rangers still had a chance to pick Kinsler up. Andruw Jones walked to put runners on first and second bringing up Byrd. A surprising double steal put Kinsler on third and pinch runner David Murphy on second as Byrd took what he said was a hittable pitch, and like Kinsler, owned up to it.
"I have to swing at that pitch," Byrd said.
Byrd still had two strikes left, but he fouled the second fastball behind the plate, and then swung and missed at a high-and-tight fastball from Sherrill.
"I've got to pick up the team and at least put the ball in play there," Byrd said. "I can't go up there and not put the ball in play."
While the run or runs they didn't score in the ninth inning ultimately doomed the Rangers, it didn't help that Padilla couldn't produce a shutdown inning in the fourth after Young's two-run home run to center staked him to a 4-2 lead.
Padilla walked Gregg Zaun on four pitches to start the inning and that set the tone for a miserable frame. Felix Pie followed with a single and Cruz's fielding error allowed Zaun and Pie to move up a base.
Padilla got Cesar Izturis to pop out to shortstop for the first out, and then came the onslaught. Five straight singles produced a run each time, the last by Ty Wigginton for a 7-4 lead.
Padilla said he struggled with the velocity of his fastball all night.
"I didn't have my best fastball tonight," Padilla said. "I threw all of my pitches and they hit them all."
The Orioles built the lead to 10-4, scoring three runs off reliever Feldman in the fifth, including a solo homer by Pie.
The Rangers did rally, pulling to within 10-9 on Jones' two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh.
They didn't threaten in the eighth, but when Kinsler hit his double to start the ninth, extra innings looked possible.
It didn't happen.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.