SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Alexi Ogando pitched three perfect innings before leaving with a strained groin after a bunt single, combining with three relievers combined on a three-hitter and leading the Texas Rangers past the San Francisco Giants 5-0 on Sunday.
The AL West-leading Rangers tagged Tim Lincecum (2-7) and finished 4-6 on their road trip.
Robbie Ross (6-0) allowed only a double to pinch-hitter Aubrey Huff in the sixth over four innings. Mike Adams gave up two hits in a scoreless eighth and Joe Nathan tossed a hitless ninth.
Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler each drove in two runs to chase Lincecum after 5 2-3 innings in the fifth straight loss for San Francisco’s shaggy-haired ace. He allowed nine hits, struck out five and walked four.
San Francisco’s two-time NL Cy Young Award winner has been erratic all season.
Sunday was no different.
Lincecum labored through a 30-pitch first inning — walking three straight with two outs — before striking out the side in the second on a rare warm, windless day at San Francisco’s waterfront ballpark. In the third, Elvis Andrus tripled and scored on Adrian Beltre’s two-out double to give Texas a 1-0 lead.
Everything really unraveled for the Giants in the fourth.
Three straight singles by the Rangers loaded the bases, the last coming on a bunt by Ogando that trickled between Lincecum and third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Ogando limped off the field after the play, leaving with a right groin strain after throwing 39 pitches.
Kinsler hit a two-run double to left to put the Rangers ahead 3-0. While Lincecum got Beltre to pop out to right with the bases, he never settled into a rhythm.
Hamilton hit another two-run double in the sixth to extend Texas’ lead to 5-0 and chase Lincecum. The lanky right-hander is winless in eight straight starts.
Lincecum, who pitched the Game 5 World Series clincher for the Giants at Texas in 2010 and also beat the Rangers earlier in the series, has a 6.00 ERA this season.
This time, the stars on the mound belonged to the Rangers.
Not until Huff’s pinch-hit double off Ross with one out in the fifth did the Giants even get a hit.
Angel Pagan and Nate Schierholtz singled off Adams in the eighth. Then Kinsler snagged a grounder by Brandon Crawford at second, and flipped it back-handed to Andrus out of his glove to start a dramatic double play.
The biggest relief for Texas still came on the mound.
Rangers manager Ron Washington was only hoping for about 60 pitches from Ogando, who took the turn in the rotation for Derek Holland after the left-hander landed on the disabled list Thursday with a fatigued throwing shoulder. He also had a stomach virus that caused him to lose about 15 pounds.
Ogando, who has made 27 relief appearances this season, will likely make at least one more start. He will head back to the bullpen when Holland and Roy Oswalt — who is scheduled to throw about 80 pitches for Double-A Frisco on Tuesday — are healthy enough to rejoin the rotation.
The bullpen bonanza came two days after six Seattle relievers combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers. Texas also shut out the Giants 5-0 Friday.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)