ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Colby Lewis was good on Saturday night. He has been good for a month. Problem is, the opposing pitcher was just a little bit better. That has been the case for a month and again on Saturday night when Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester dominated the Rangers in a 3-1 victory at the Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers are back to a 7 1/2-game lead over the Angels in the American League West.
The Rangers drew 48,030 fans for their sixth sellout of the season and third straight on this homestand. This is the first time they have had three consecutive sellouts since May 21-23, 2004, in a series against the Yankees. This crowd saw a 1-0 pitching duel go into the ninth before the Red Sox scored two runs off reliever Darren O'Day. That ended O'Day's streak of 29 consecutive scoreless appearances (a club record) and 26 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. The runs also proved invaluable to the Red Sox because Josh Hamilton ended the shutout in the bottom of the ninth with a one-out home run off of reliever Scott Atchison. "We let the game get out of hand in the ninth inning, that's the bottom line," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. Lester held the Rangers to five hits in eight innings. He did not walk a batter while striking out five and raising his record to 13-7 with a 2.80 ERA. Nelson Cruz had two of the Rangers' five hits but also left the game after seven innings with tightness in his left hamstring. Lewis took the loss despite allowing just one run on six hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out nine while throwing 117 pitches in a game that began with the temperature at 102 degrees. "I felt good tonight," Lewis said. "I felt I had really good stuff. The only time I got frustrated was with a walk to [Marco] Scutaro, but other than that, I felt good and ready to battle." Lewis has a 2.76 ERA in his last five starts but is still without a win. Instead he is 0-4 with one no-decision in that stretch and 9-9 despite a 3.28 ERA in 23 starts this season. "You know ... it is what it is," Lewis said. "You just roll with the punches. I'm used to one-run games. Last year I was 11-9 in Japan with a [2.96] ERA. That's the way it goes. If you do what you can to keep your team in the game, you're doing your job. That's the way it is." Lewis has pitched 32 2/3 innings over his last five starts, and during the time he has been in the ballgame, his team has scored just four runs. The Rangers have scored two or fewer runs in each of the five games. "We try to score runs no matter who is out on the mound," third baseman Michael Young said. "But we have a ton of faith in Colby, and we'd like to score a few more runs for him." The Red Sox broke through against Lewis in the fifth inning. Ryan Kalish led off with a single and, after Bill Hall flied out and Eric Patterson struck out, went to second on catcher Taylor Teagarden's passed ball. Scutaro followed with a sharp grounder right down the third-base line that Young could only knock down for an infield hit. That left runners at corners, and J.D. Drew singled to right to bring home Kalish with the first run of the game. The two straight hits with runners in scoring position are a rarity against Lewis. Opponents are hitting .164 with runners in scoring position against Lewis in his 23 starts this season. He has allowed just two hits or more with runners in scoring position in just seven of those starts. The Rangers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Their best chance came in the seventh inning when Cruz reached on a one-out triple. But Lester retired David Murphy on a grounder to first that kept Cruz pinned at third. Jorge Cantu then grounded out to second. "[Lester] had all four pitches," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Against that lineup, in this ballpark, you have to. You can't stay on one side of the plate or one speed, they'll make you pay." Lester left after eight innings and Francona had to piece together the ninth because he did not want to use closer Jonathan Papelbon or setup reliever Daniel Bard. He went instead with Atchison, who gave up the one-out home run to Hamilton that made it 3-1. When Vladimir Guerrero reached on an infield single, Francona waved in left-hander Felix Doubront to face pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland. But while Moreland was at the plate, Guerrero inexplicably tried to steal second and was thrown out by catcher Victor Martinez. Under Washington's system, his runners are generally free to attempt stolen bases unless he specifically puts a hold sign on them. Washington did not have the hold sign on Guerrero, although smart baserunners rarely try to steal in the ninth with the tying run at the plate. Especially when there is a left-hander on the mound. "In that situation, I've got to take the blame for not putting the hold sign on," Washington said. Moreland struck out to end the game.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.