ARLINGTON — One inning of run production was not enough for the Rangers to take down the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
The Rangers posted a four spot in the sixth inning to take a 4-3 lead, and the game was in good hands going into the ninth inning.
But Joe Nathan failed to execute a save for just the second time in 2013.
Nathan struck out the lead-off hitter in Lyle Overbay, but walked Vernon Wells with one out. Eduardo Nunez smacked a triple to the 404-feet sign in center field, inches beyond the reach of centerfielder Craig Gentry. Brent Lillibridge brought Nunez home on a single in the next at-bat.
The Rangers bats were dormant for five innings against the Yankees’ Phil Hughes, and they found themselves with a three-run deficit early.
The Texas rally in the sixth began with a Nelson Cruz smash to third base, too hot for Lillibridge to handle. Adrian Beltre followed with a double to left-center that brought Cruz home from first.
Then with two outs, Elvis Andrus chased Hughes from the game with an RBI single to right. Mitch Moreland capped off the rally with a two-run blast that landed on Greene’s Hill in center field.
Before that rally, the ball hadn’t bounced the Rangers’ way.
Cruz failed to capitalize with two men on base in his first two at-bats, as he tapped a grounder back to the mound and struck out swinging.
Meanwhile, the Yankees tallied their second and third RBI of the game on balls that didn’t leave the infield. Ichiro slapped an RBI single to shortstop, and Lillibridge drove in a run on a chopper to second, on which Vernon Wells beat the throw home.
But after that sixth inning, it seemed that the Rangers had survived. Alexi Ogando surrendered a total of three runs on six hits in five innings of work in his return from the disabled list, and some spectacular flashes of leather in the field behind him kept the game close.
Manager Ron Washington has said his team has a good chance if it gets past the sixth inning with a lead, and the Rangers were in that situation Tuesday.
A combination of Ross Wolf, Jason Frasor, and Neal Cotts recorded a hitless sixth, seventh, and eighth inning, respectively, before Nathan’s second blown save in 33 chances this season.
The Rangers have had to do a lot of surviving lately in 2013. They have had to survive a couple different losing streaks in June and July, and they’ve had to survive a depleted starting rotation.
The rotation is returning to form, as Darvish, Ogando, and the newly-acquired Matt Garza are here to bolster the pitching staff. Those additions, and a stacked back half of the bullpen, indicate that the pitching is here.
The bats almost overcame the deficit Tuesday night, but fell short. And now this Ranger club has to do a little more surviving as it tries to establish consistency.
The third game of the four-game set with the Yankees continues Wednesday night in Matt Garza’s first start as a Ranger. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m.