ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 27: Mike Napoli #25 of the Texas Rangers watches Desmond Jennings #8 and Carlos Pena #23 congratulate Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays for a home run hit in the first inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 27, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Matt Harrison's first poor outing of the year leads to a Texas loss.
For a franchise record-tying fourth game in a row, the Texas Rangers played in front of a sellout crowd in Arlington Friday night. But the Rangers were unable to please the 47,000-plus fans and lost the first game of their series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays got off to a quick start, scoring four runs in the top of the first. Ian Kinsler booted a would-be double play that translated into an Evan Longoria three-run home run. A walk and two singles later, the Rangers found themselves down 4-0. It was all downhill from here.
The Rangers began chipping away in the bottom of the first, but saw little reward for their effort. With four hits in the inning, they could only manage one run off a Josh Hamilton RBI fielder's choice that scored Kinsler.
The Rays would tack on another two runs on four hits in the fourth.
Hamilton breathed some life into the Rangers with a fifth inning two-run home run, shrinking the deficit to 7-3.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning, Elvis Andrus nearly wrapped a ball around the right field foul pole that would have tied the game. But the ball just curved foul and Andrus would fly out to center on the next pitch, ending the Rangers' last viable threat.
The story of the game for the Ranger's was Matt Harrison's poor outing. He labored through five innings, giving up seven runs (six earned) on 14 hits. The 14 hits ties a club record and is a career high for Harrison. He only walked one batter, but his pitches found Tampa Bay bats seemingly more often than Mike Napoli's mitt.
One bright spot was the Rangers' bullpen. Other than a solo home run given up by Mark Lowe, the relief staff was stellar. Koji Uehara pitched a perfect seventh, and Robbie Ross retired all four hitters he faced (three in the eighth and one in the ninth). Alexi Ogando finished off the last two. The bullpen's line was 4 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk and 1 strikeout.
Andrus had a solid night with three singles and flawless play at shortstop. Hamilton had 3 RBI on one hit, a 2-run homer. Murphy was 2-3 with a home run.
Harrison suffered his first loss of the season and is now 3-1. James Shields improved his record to 4-0.