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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – A key at-bat in the Texas Rangers’ big inning was a strikeout.
Elvis Andrus had a two-run single in a four-run second and the Rangers won their fourth straight, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 on Thursday night.
Andrus’ single off Chris Archer put Texas up 4-0. Rougned Odor loaded the bases with two outs when he reached base on a wild pitch while striking out. Andrus lined his single to center after Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo both walked on 3-2 pitches with the bases loaded.
“How about that one?” Rangers manager Jeff Banister asked of Odor’s at-bat. “Running hard. Being head’s up. Odor ran down, safe at first base. That kept the inning alive for us.”
Neither starter, Texas’ Nick Martinez nor Archer, made it through the fifth inning. Martinez (0.84) and Archer (1.64) entered second and third, respectively in ERA in the American League.
Alex Claudio (1-0) went 1 1-3 innings for his first major league victory. He retired James Loney on a grounder with two on to end the fifth. Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
Archer (3-4) gave up five runs, four hits and four walks and struck out eight in 3 1-3 innings.
“I didn’t feel like I did my job at all,” Archer said. “I wasn’t in the zone enough. If you’re not in the zone it doesn’t matter how good your stuff is. They’ll lay off, run your pitch count up, and that’s what happened.”
Prince Fielder made it 5-0 in the fourth with an RBI single off Erasmo Ramirez.
Martinez allowed three runs and six hits over 4 2-3 innings. The right-hander sailed through four innings before allowing three runs in the fifth and getting pulled with two outs in the inning.
“I understand why they did it,” Martinez said. “Got away from the game plan a little bit that last inning and they scored a few runs before you knew it.”
Jake Elmore had an RBI single, and Tim Beckham and Kevin Kiermaier had run-scoring grounders off Martinez to get the Rays within 5-3 in the fifth.
Kiermaier’s solo homer in the eighth cut the deficit to 5-4.
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria was scratched from the starting lineup due to flu-like symptoms. That ended his major league-best active streak of playing in 270 consecutive games.
“It just didn’t make sense for him to be out there,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Rangers: OF Josh Hamilton (right shoulder) could join Triple-A Round Rock from extended spring training this weekend. 1B Mitch Moreland (shoulder) could also play for Round Rock this weekend. CF Leonys Martin (wrist) hit off a tee. LHP Matt Harrison (back) threw batting practice to Hamilton.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (elbow) plans to decide in the next few weeks if he will have elbow ligament replacement surgery.
The Rangers are 6-0 in starts by Martinez, and 6-16 by everyone else. He came up one start short in tying the franchise record of 12 straight of two earned runs or less set by the Washington Senators’ Barry Moore (1968-69).
The announced crowd was just 8,701, the smallest at Tropicana Field since May 23, 2007, against Seattle (8,440). The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning were playing Montreal in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in nearby Tampa at the same time. The Lightning played before a sellout crowd of 19,204.
Rangers: RHP Yovani Gallardo (2-4, 4.05) is Friday night’s starter against the Rays. He has lost three consecutive starts.
Rays: RHP Nathan Karns (1-1, 4.05) will face the Rangers on Friday night. It’s his first career start against an AL West team.
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