Little going right for Rangers these days

Nick Tepesch (4-8) saw things get away from him during the Royals' three-run fifth inning. AP Photo/LM Otero

ARLINGTON, Texas -- When you have 79 losses and 34 games to avoid a 100-loss season, playing a perfect contest is almost something you need.

The reality of this Texas Rangers season is that you can’t play perfect baseball. You just need consistency in some areas.

Saturday night, starter Nick Tepesch wasn’t consistent and kept searching for the right pitch to get people out in a 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

“Struggling to make pitches,” said Tepesch, who took the loss after 6⅓ innings during he allowed six runs, the most he's given up since July 6, when the New York Mets also tagged him for six. “You’re constantly trying to find it, and I couldn’t find it that inning. I felt like I was all over the place all night, and that inning was the worst of it.”

The inning Tepesch was referencing was the fifth, when the Royals picked up three runs, breaking a 1-1 tie to take command of the game and win the second game of this three-game series.

But Saturday's troubles weren’t Tepesch's alone.

The Rangers hitters failed him, too.

Shin-Soo Choo gave him a 1-0 lead by homering on the first pitch in the bottom of the first. Nothing else until Leonys Martin's two-run single in the ninth cut a five-run deficit to three.

Manager Ron Washington can do only so much with this lineup.

Jim Adduci, batting seventh, ended a 0-for-26 slide with a fifth-inning single.

J.P. Arencibia, the No. 6 man in the order, went 0-for-4, and has just two hits in his past 28 at-bats.

No. 3 hitter Alex Rios had three fly outs until a ninth-inning walk. There’s Adrian Beltre, the most consistent hitter on this team, trying to do it by himself. After a seventh-inning single, he was erased by a double play. He did score on Martin’s hit in the ninth.

Elvis Andrus went 1-for-4, and while he’s got hits in 24 of his past 27 games, the Rangers would like to see a higher on-base percentage than .325.

“The margin of error is narrow for sure,” Andrus said. “You have to bring your A-game every single time, and when it’s not happening, there are no wins for us. It’s been a tough year and this has been a learning process for us this year, we have to erase that [game] and get ready for the next one.”

Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie was wonderful, allowing just one run over eight innings. He gave up five hits and walked just one to move his record to 10-10.

Guthrie, a journeyman with 80 career wins, avoided the 100th loss of his career.

He used a cutter and threw the fastball to different portions of the plate to stifle the Rangers. He mixed his pitches on a consistent basis and made sure Texas had nothing to play with.

The issues with the Rangers, at least Saturday night, could be attributed to that approach by Guthrie, who has won five of his past six starts.

“I think you have to give the pitcher credit,” Washington said. “He kept us off balance. You could say approach is involved, even if we would have had a better approach, we certainly didn’t cause a whole lot of stir tonight.”

The Rangers don’t create enough drama for the other team to worry about on a regular basis; that's why they have 79 losses in mid-August. We all know what Washington doesn’t have: his power guys, his top pitchers and experience on this roster.

Teaching is the main objective for Washington and his coaches. Sometimes it's hard to watch the Rangers in this season they’re seeking a pass on.

“We’re not getting wins,” Andrus said. “You go through that during the year, we still [have to] find a way to win games to help make your mindset a lot better. You have to find wins.”

It’s hard to do right now.