Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Reds 2
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish was back in top form and the Texas Rangers used small ball to score all of their runs to hold on for a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday afternoon.
The Rangers (48-34), winners of 10 of their past 13 games, remain in first place in the American League West with two weeks left before the All-Star break.
Wash ball: The Rangers used small ball to get a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Emerging outfielder Engel Beltre ignited the inning with a bunt hit, sneaking it past Reds pitcher Mat Latos and leaving second baseman Brandon Phillips with no play. The red hot Leonys Martin followed with a double, using his speed to get to second base and avoid a tag while getting Beltre to third. After Ian Kinsler struck out, Elvis Andrus executed a suicide squeeze with Beltre sliding in safe at home as he was hit in the left ear by a wild throw home by Latos. Martin was able to sneak behind Beltre for a 2-0 lead.
Rangers add insurance: Martin started a rally in the bottom of the seventh against Latos with a single to center field and a stolen base. It was his 13th straight stolen base and his eighth in 14 games. With one out, Andrus had a line-drive single to move Martin to third and Nelson Cruz had a single on an 0-2 pitch to make it 3-0. The Rangers had a chance for more, but David Murphy flew out to left field with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Martin sizzles: Martin extended his hitting streak to 14 games with his double in the fifth inning, tying him with Adrian Beltre for the longest hitting streak of the season by a Ranger.
Darvish has quality start: Whatever adjustment Darvish made -- and it appeared to be throwing his fastball more -- it worked. He gave the Rangers 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and walking four. He had eight strikeouts. Darvish threw 117 pitches, 77 of them for strikes. He couldn't complete seven innings as he walked Reds No. 9 hitter Derrick Robinson with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, forcing manager Ron Washington to go the bullpen and bring in left-hander Robbie Ross.
Scheppers struggles: Setup man Tanner Scheppers had three days off and didn't look like the same pitcher he has all season in the eighth inning. Scheppers threw nine pitches, seven for balls. He allowed a walk and two straight singles to start the inning. He missed badly with two pitches to Jay Bruce and Washington quickly went to Neal Cotts with a 2-0 count.
Cotts, Frasor pick him up: The Rangers survived the top of the eighth. Neal Cotts gave up two sacrifice flies as the Reds cut the lead to 3-2, but he got the first two outs of the inning. Washington then went to right-hander Jason Frasor with the tying run on base, and the veteran secured one of his biggest outs of the season, getting third baseman Todd Frazier to line out to center field.
Up next: The Rangers have an off day Monday before starting a three-game home series against the Seattle Mariners on Tueday. Right-hander Justin Grimm (7-5, 5.56 ERA) will start the opener of the series on Tuesday night against Mariners left-hander Joe Saunders (5-8, 4.98). Wednesday night brings a marquee matchup with Rangers left-hander Derek Holland (6-4, 3.14) going up against Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez (8-4, 2.70). On Wednesday night, left-hander Martin Perez (2-1, 2.37) faces Seattle right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3, 2.42). All three games start at 7:05 p.m. and will be televised by Fox Sports Southwest and on the radio on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.