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Flat Offense Dooms Rangers In Loss To Braves

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Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers reacts after falling while chasing a pop fly against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 19, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (AP) - Texas manager Ron Washington hopes a return to Arlington will help the Rangers’ offense wake up.

There weren’t many bright spots during a 3-7 road trip. Texas went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position on Sunday, .222 over the last 10 games.

“Everyone had opportunities, but we won the series,” Washington said. “That’s a positive. They’ve got a good club over there, and they’ve won some games also. They outplayed us today.”

Jason Heyward hit a two-run single in the third inning and Freddie Freeman added an RBI double in the seventh to help Jair Jurrjens earn his ninth victory in the Atlanta Braves’ 4-2 win over the Rangers.

Atlanta snapped a two-game losing streak, while Texas dropped its ninth in 13 games. The Rangers, who played 16 of their next 19 at home, begin a three-game series against the Houston Astros on Monday.

Jurrjens (9-3) allowed one run, seven hits, two walks and struck out four in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander lowered his NL-best ERA to 2.11, but he wasn’t so sure of his control after losing two of three starts.

“He had command of all his pitches and against a guy like that, it can be pretty tough to score some runs,” Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “I think we did a pretty good job getting on base, but we didn’t have the special hit we needed. He had pretty good command of his fastball, changeup and breaking balls.”

Craig Kimbrel earned his 19th save in 24 chances for Atlanta, striking out Josh Hamilton on three pitches to end it with a runner on first.

Alexi Ogando (7-2) lost his second straight start after giving up five hits and three runs — one earned — with one walk and three strikeouts.

“They worked him pretty good, fouled off a lot of pitches, made him go deep into a bunch of counts and by the fifth inning rolled around, he’d thrown over 100 pitches,” Washington said. “He’s never done that.”

Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba suffered through a difficult third, getting charged with two errors that helped the Braves take a 3-0 lead.

With one out, Jordan Schafer reached on a catcher’s interference call and moved to second when Dan Uggla singled for Atlanta’s first hit.

After a wild pitch to Heyward advanced both runners, Heyward’s two-run single made it 2-0. Heyward moved to third on Freeman’s single and scored for a 3-0 lead when Torrealba collided with first baseman Michael Young on Alex Gonzalez’s popup and was charged with a fielding error.

The error was the Rangers’ 57th, tying them with Oakland for most in the majors.

In the fourth, Torrealba made up for some of his damage with an RBI single that cut the lead to 3-1, but he left the game when Taylor Teagarden took over behind the plate to begin the bottom of the fifth.

Neither Torrealba nor Ogando was available to speak with reporters after the game, a team spokesman said, because both were taking intravenous fluids.

“Even after what happened in the third, I thought we still had a chance to keep picking and pecking away at Jurrjens and that we would probably get something done,” Washington said. “But the best we could do today was two runs.”

Jurrjens labored through the first two innings, throwing 50 pitches but stranding five baserunners. Other than Torrealba’s hit, Jurrjens settled down until Michael Young singled and David Murphy walked with one out in the sixth.

But Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill combined to retire Teagarden and pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland to end the threat.

“Sometimes it’s not a good thing when you face a guy like (Jurrjens) and he has a high pitch count early on,” Beltre said. “My thought was to try and take as many (pitches) as I can, but he made the adjustments he needed to get us out when we had some runners on.”

Hamilton’s RBI groundout in the seventh cut the lead to 3-2. The run was charged to reliever Scott Proctor, who was making his fourth straight appearance and fifth in six games.

Washington used three pitchers in the seventh: Michael Kirkman, Arthur Rhodes and Yoshinori Tateyama.

Rhodes retired Brian McCann on a foul popout before Freeman’s ground-rule double bounced into the left-field seats for a 4-2 lead, scoring Schafer from second and advancing Heyward to third. Freeman went 3 for 4.

Braves left-hander Jonny Venters pitched out of trouble for the last two outs of the seventh and a scoreless eighth to lower his ERA to 0.60, best in the majors.

Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez felt uneasy in the ninth when Elvis Andrus reached on an infield single.

“That’s not a real good feeling,” Gonzalez said, “sitting there on a ground ball to the third baseman and we don’t make a play and here comes Hamilton.”

But Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, swung and missed the game’s last pitch.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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