- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Robbie Ross returned to the big club with confidence and fixed mechanics.
But it was the same results for the Texas Rangers left-hander on Thursday night.
Ross was demoted to Triple-A Round Rock on June 17 for his struggles. He earned a call-up when Darvish went to the 15-day disabled list. General manager Jon Daniels said Ross' moderate success in Round Rock, which included a three-game win streak and a 3.60 ERA in two August starts, made him a strong candidate for a September call-up.
After a productive first inning when he struck out the side, it fell apart for Ross as he gave up four runs in the next two innings.
The Rays took three of four games from the Rangers and kept their slim AL wild-card hopes alive. The Rangers' hopes? The first pick of next year's draft.
How it happened: A one-out infield hit by Sean Rodriguez got the party started for the Rays in the second inning. Yunel Escobar hit his fifth homer of the season for a 2-0 lead. Ross continued his problems in the third when Evan Longoria drove in a run with a two-out RBI single to left and James Loney brought in another run for a 4-0 lead.
The dagger was Longoria's two-run shot in the fifth, on the first pitch he saw to push the advantage to 6-2. A single and a walk followed, and in came manager Ron Washington to end the night for Ross.
Home is heartbreak: In 19 home series this season, the Rangers are 6-10-3. The last time the Rangers won a series was July 28-30 when they took two of three from the New York Yankees. This was also the final game this season against the AL East. The Rangers are 10-22 against the division and have lost 15 of their last 21 games.
Klein pitches well: Some were wondering just where rookie reliever Phil Klein was the past two nights. The Rangers wanted him to get a little more rest after he was warming up in the bullpen but hadn't entered a game yet. In taking over for Ross, he pitched 2⅔ innings with five strikeouts. In his first two games in the big leagues, Klein gave up home runs to the first batter he faced each time. Nothing bad has occurred in the past three appearances.
Choo keeps striking out: Leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo has struck out in 12 consecutive games. His three strikeouts Thursday give him 23 during that span. On the season, Choo has struck out a major-league leading 100 times from the leadoff spot. The Rangers' record for most strikeouts in a single season for a leadoff hitter belongs to Oddibe McDowell (1986) and David Dellucci (2005) at 105.
Holland rehab outing: Left-hander Derek Holand had his fourth rehab outing at Round Rock on Thursday night. He went 3⅔ innings, giving up three runs, one earned, and four hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Holland walked two and threw 72 pitches, the most he has thrown during his rehab from knee surgery.
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