ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have relied on their bullpen countless times throughout the first half of the season. Often overworked, the 'pen leads the Majors with 19 relief wins and is tied with the Giants for most saves with 27. And after starting pitcher Colby Lewis gave the Rangers six strong innings, Rangers manager Ron Washington turned the game over to the them with the club out in front with a one-run lead.
They didn't disappoint. Alexi Ogando, Frank Francisco and Neftali Feliz retired nine of the last 10 batters they faced as the Rangers collected their 50th win this season against the Indians with a 4-3 victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "The bullpen came in and did exactly what they've been doing all year," Washington said. "They shut it down. Ogando came in and did a great job. Frankie came in after some work in the past few days and did a great job. And then Neffy came in and did a great job. I can't say enough about the pitching." "Amazing. ... Neffy's been solid for us all year," added Lewis, who picked up his team-high eighth win of the season. "Frankie's been throwing the ball great. Ogando's been Ogando since he's been up." Julio Borbon put the relievers in position to close out the win with his go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning. With the score tied at 3, Borbon laced a single up the middle to score Matt Treanor from second. Treanor had started the rally with a bases-empty double to the left-field wall, before Andres Blanco forced a walk. Third baseman Michael Young knotted the score in the previous inning on his two-run homer to right field, his 12th blast of the season. "We caught some breaks offensively and Colby kept us in there," Young said. "The bullpen did a great job. It was all pitching and defense tonight." That proved enough for the Rangers' relief corps, as Ogando worked a perfect seventh, Francisco worked a perfect eighth and Feliz retired the side in the ninth to give the Rangers the series victory. The lone baserunner the bullpen allowed came on Jason Donald's two-out walk in the ninth. "It's all credit to the bullpen," Lewis said. "They've been awesome. It's one of those things, where if you don't let guys on they can't score. It's just being able to pound the strike zone. Those guys have been unbelievable." Even Lewis got in on the action. After he gave up a leadoff double to Shelley Duncan to start the sixth, Lewis set down the next three Indians on a flyout and two strikeouts to end the inning. In all, Rangers pitchers retired 12 of the last 13 batters they faced, five by way of the strikeout. "The sixth inning was big for him, especially with Duncan having the leadoff double, and he left him to die right there on second base," Washington said. "Then the bullpen came in and shut them down." "Today just came down to execution, basically," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "That's a very good ball club, a high-caliber club. I felt in two of the three games we played them well. Unfortunately, we only won one of them." For the Rangers, it was their first series victory since taking two of three from the Astros on June 26 and 27. The club had lost consecutive series against the Angels and White Sox before taking the series against the Tribe. The win assured the Rangers of first place at the All-Star break. "It means we've played good baseball to this point," Washington said. "We expect it to continue. There may be some people out there who are surprised, but I'll tell you what, those guys in the clubhouse aren't." Much of the Rangers' success in the first half has to be credited to the bullpen and the pitching staff overall. In all, the Rangers pitching staff struck out 11 Indians, with eight K's coming from Lewis. "He was really stout," Treanor said of Lewis. "He had good command of all his pitches and a good plan before we went in there. He had good rhythm and good tempo. He was able to command his pitches. That's what you need." "Anytime you can get an out when the ball is not put in play, that's huge," added Washington. "They're young over there, and those kids battled. We battled also. The bottom line is we got the win."
Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.