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Monday, September 16, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Rays 6, Rangers 2

By Todd Wills



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Texas Rangers' losing continues. They made it seven September defeats in a row with a 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Tropicana Field.

The Rangers, who are 2-12 for the month, fell behind Tampa Bay for the first wild-card spot. They were holding onto the lead for the second spot, pending the final of the Cleveland-Kansas City game. If the Indians win, they'll pass the Rangers by a half-game.

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Can't get a lead: The Rangers made it 63 consecutive innings without a lead. It's an impossible accomplishment. They did end a streak of trailing for 34 straight innings when they tied the game at 1 in the fourth inning on a single by A.J. Pierzynski.

Garza struggles again: It's been a September to forget for Matt Garza, who couldn't produce a shutdown inning as the Rangers' offense tried to keep him in the game. Garza allowed a run in the third inning after a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Desmond Jennings gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. The Rangers tied the game 2-2 in the top of the fifth, and after Garza struck out Yunel Escobar to start the bottom of the inning, the former Rays pitcher allowed four straight hits. David DeJesus had a double and Ben Zobrist, setting up the heart of Tampa Bay's lineup, singled. James Loney squibbed a single inside the third-base bag for a 3-2 lead. Evan Longoria followed with a single up the middle for a 4-2 lead. Garza's line was finished off when Wil Myers doubled off reliever Jason Frasor for two more runs.

Garza in September: The Rangers' big trade acquisition before the July 31 deadline has allowed 15 runs in 15 1/3 innings during the most crucial month of the season. That's with 22 hits and six walks.

Offense trying: They still can't get the big inning -- except for the bottom of the eighth in Friday's 9-8 loss to the A's -- but the Rangers' offense did at least tie the game twice. Trailing 1-0, Ian Kinsler led off the top of the fourth with a double. He moved to third on Elvis Andrus' sacrifice bunt. Kinsler was then trapped between third and home on a groundout to third by Alex Rios for the second out. But the Rangers still managed a run. Rios stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on Pierzynski's two-out single. With the go-ahead run at third, Lance Berkman struck out to end the inning. The Rangers tied the game again at 2-2 when Mitch Moreland ended an 0-for-22 stretch with a double to center field. He scored on Kinsler's double inside third-base bag. The inning ended when Kinsler was picked off second with Andrus, the Rangers' best hitter in September, at the plate.

Martin withe the assist -- again: Leonys Martin might have kept Garza from taking an earlier exit by coming up with his 14th outfield assist of the season. With a runner at second and one out in the bottom of the third, Zobrist ripped a single to center field and Martin came up firing, making a perfect throw home to nail Escobar at the plate to keep the Rays' lead at 1-0.

Watch out for Myers: Myers appears to be on his way to winning the American League Rookie of the Year award. He had a home run in the second inning for a 1-0 lead. He had the two-run double off Frasor in the fifth inning to break the game open and give Tampa Bay a 6-2 lead. Myers just missed a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth off Neftali Feliz as Martin ran down a towering fly ball at the base of the center-field wall for the third out of the inning.

Up next: The Rangers will try to end their seven-game losing streak when they send a pitcher to be announced, probably Alexi Ogando or Nick Tepesch, against Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (11-8, 5.04 ERA) at 6:10 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.