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07/21/10 11:15 PM ET
Despite loss, Rangers complete strong trip
Texas bats are quieted, fall to Tigers in series finale
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
DETROIT -- On the seventh day of their road trip, the Rangers rested. Slumbered may even be a better description. Considering what they accomplished on the trip and what lies immediately ahead, maybe the Rangers deserved a night off, even if pitcher Cliff Lee was the only one who flew back to Texas early Wednesday afternoon ahead of the rest of the team. Everybody else was at Comerica Park, but it was a quiet night for the Rangers as they ended their seven-game trip with a 4-1 loss to the Tigers. While the Tigers snapped a seven-game losing streak, the Rangers finished up their road trip with a 5-2 record, remaining five games ahead of the Angels in the American League West. "It felt flat in the dugout," outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "It definitely felt that way. It felt like we weren't in the game as much as we need to be. That's something we can't do." Still, manager Ron Washington was more than happy to take three of four from the Red Sox in Boston and two of three from the Tigers in Detroit on the Rangers' first road trip after the All-Star break. "Without a doubt," Washington said. "You can't beat on a team like this all the time and you can't beat on a team like Boston all the time. You take what you can." Lee will be pitching for the Rangers on Thursday night, when they open up a four-game series against the Angels at Rangers Ballpark. That will be the first of 16 straight games against the AL West, including seven with the Angels. "I expect us to continue to play good baseball," Washington said. The Rangers should be a little more intense than they were Wednesday night, when Tigers starter Max Scherzer held the Rangers scoreless through seven innings, allowing four singles and three walks while striking out five. Rangers starter Colby Lewis wasn't bad, but gave up a two-run home run to Gerald Laird in the second inning. The Rangers could never overcome that early blow from their former teammate and the Tigers added two more off Lewis in the seventh. Lewis lost for the first time in four starts and second time in his past eight starts. "I thought I threw the ball really well," Lewis said. "I commanded the fastball in and out and made a lot of guys have a lot of bad swings. Threw one 'get it over' slider to Laird and I must have thrown it in his bat path. That was the only pitch I wasn't happy with. Other than that, I threw the ball well." Lewis just couldn't match Scherzer, who picked up two of his five strikeouts in the biggest moment of the ballgame. Michael Young led off the fourth with a triple -- the only extra-base hit for the Rangers on the night. But Scherzer kept him there by striking out Ian Kinsler and Vladimir Guerrero, before retiring Hamilton on a grounder to first base. "We've got to get a guy in like that," Hamilton said. "We didn't get it done. We've been doing a pretty good job lately. That would have been a good way to get back in the ballgame. The 3-4-5 guys in the lineup, we've got to get it done." Kinsler later had a single to extend his hitting streak to 14 games and Nelson Cruz had a single to bring his streak to 10. But the Rangers were still 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on the night. "It was a big momentum swing, to be able to strand the runner on third with no outs," Scherzer said. "That's key. I've been on the other end of that assignment, and it demoralizes the offense, so it was a big momentum swing for us. My slider was working very well today. With a right-handed dominant lineup, I knew I needed a good slider. My slider really helped me get the results against those right-handed hitters." The Rangers' only run came in the ninth, after All-Star closer Jose Valverde walked Kinsler, hit Guerrero with a pitch and then threw a wild pitch with Hamilton at the plate. It looked like Valverde might melt down, but Hamilton grounded out to short, bringing home a run, Cruz struck out, and David Murphy bounced out to end the game.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.