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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Adrian Beltre believes he knows why the Texas Rangers haven’t been scoring much lately.
“The main reason we’re not doing better is because of me. I take full responsibility,” Beltre said after driving in both Texas runs Sunday in a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. “Hitting in the middle of the lineup, I know my job, I know what I need to be doing. It hasn’t happened, but there’s no doubt it has to be better moving forward.”
Beltre homered and Wandy Rodriguez gave the Rangers a record-setting pitching performance as they completed a 5-2 road trip.
Beltre’s tiebreaking single off Kevin Jepsen (0-2) came in the eighth inning following a couple of walks.
Keone Kela (3-1) got the win after Rodriguez established a franchise mark for consecutive batters retired.
The 36-year-old lefty set down the first 15 Rays before Tim Beckham led off the Tampa Bay sixth with a line-drive single. Following the 19 straight hitters Rodriguez retired in his previous start at Houston, Rodriguez broke the team record of 31 in a row set by Ken Hill in 1996.
“Oh yeah?” Rodriguez said, seemingly unaware of the accomplishment. “Today I had a good curveball. That’s why I used it a lot. I try to make quality pitches to every hitter.”
There was some doubt about whether Rodriguez could continue when he walked off the mound in the third with a sore lower back. It was still sore after the game, but Rodriguez said he will pitch again in five days.
“This is why we went and got him,” manager Jeff Banister said. “I’ve seen him pitch through a lot of different things. When he’s on he’s really good, mixes the breaking ball with the fastball. He’s never going to give in to you.”
Rodriguez gave up two hits while striking out six in six innings. Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Beltre led off the fourth with his third home run of the season. It was the 398th of his career, tying Dale Murphy for 54th place.
Beltre’s homer was the first this season off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, who gave up seven hits while striking out seven in 6 2-3 innings. Odorizzi has allowed no more than one run in five of his seven starts.
“I was surprised to get that deep into the game,” said Odorizzi, who had his start moved back a day when he came down with flu-like symptoms.
Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton and manager Kevin Cash were ejected by plate umpire Mike Estabrook for arguing after Rodriguez’s strikeout of Joey Butler in the fifth.
Shin-Soo Choo extended his hitting streak to 10 games with two doubles for the Rangers.
Rangers: OF Josh Hamilton (right shoulder) joined Triple-A Round Rock for a rehab assignment. He went 1 for 3 with two strikeouts.
Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (left shoulder) will undergo an MRI that could lead to season-ending surgery. He went on the DL for the second time this season Friday.
LACK OF OFFENSE
The Rays have scored two runs or fewer 14 times this season, which is one less than the Rangers’ AL-leading 15. … Tampa Bay has been shut out or held to one run six times. … The Rays have held opponents to five or fewer runs in 20 straight games, tying a team record. They have also gone a club-record 19 consecutive games without giving up double-digit hits.
Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis (2-2) will face Kansas City LHP Danny Duffy (2-1) on Monday night.
Rays: Tampa Bay opens a four-game home series Monday night against the New York Yankees. Alex Rodriguez reached base in eight of 14 plate appearances with two homers, four RBIs and six runs in a three-game sweep at Tropicana Field last month.
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