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Late rally not enough for Rangers vs. Rays

Late rally not enough for Rangers vs. Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG -- It's not exactly the way the Rangers wanted to end their series against the Rays. After losing the first two games, as well as having Michael Young's neck stiffen up on him on Monday, the American League West leaders wanted to at least come away with a win against one of the best teams in the Major Leagues.

Instead the Rangers endured another offensive onslaught by the home team during the 8-6 loss as the Rays delighted the 19,413 in attendance at Tropicana Field. Many of them were there for the "Senior Prom for Senior Citizens" event, spun off by Evan Longoria's Pepsi commercial.

Though the Rangers were fielding what resembled a Spring Training lineup, it was still no consolation for being swept by a team they may face in a potential playoff series. Even worse, they lost their fifth straight game on the road and have fallen to 12-21 against the AL East, including 4-12 mark in AL East parks.

"I'm not making excuses, but we don't necessarily have all our guys out there," manager Ron Washington said when asked about the 0-6 mark on the road against the Rays and the Yankees. "When we do the next time, then come back and talk to me."

With Nelson Cruz, Cristian Guzman and Ian Kinsler on the disabled list, the Rangers fielded a lineup on Wednesday that included just three everyday starters -- Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero and Julio Borbon.

The Rays, on the other hand, took advantage of the early-afternoon contest to roll out their full arsenal, and it paid off. Tampa Bay built a five-run lead before holding off a late Texas rally for its fifth straight win behind Longoria, who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs to finish the series 7-for-12 with eight RBIs and five extra-base hits.

"Longoria had a great series. What can you say?" Washington said.

Rangers left-hander Derek Holland endured the worst of it in his return from a rehab assignment. Making his fifth start of the season and first appearance since May 30, when he allowed three runs in one inning against the Twins, the second-year pitcher could not solve Longoria or his fellow All-Star, Carl Crawford, as the two combined to go 4-for-5 before Holland exited in the fifth.

"Derek left the ball up in the zone, and you can't do that against those guys," Washington said.

After giving up a two-out single to Crawford in the first inning, Holland (2-2) served up a fastball to Longoria, who roped a double to left-center to give the Rays a one-run lead. Three innings later, Longoria, who'd entered the contest homerless in his last 19 games, smacked his 16th dinger of the season with a solo drive down the third-base line.

The rest of the Rays' lineup went 2-for-17 against the 22-year-old Holland, but one of those hits was B.J. Upton's 11th homer of the season, a solo shot to lead off the fifth. After walking the next two batters, Holland watched Longoria knock his second run-producing double of the game with a deep drive to center that just missed clearing the wall.

Holland struck out Carlos Pena after Longoria's hit, but his 106-pitch outing was over. Washington went to reliever Alexi Ogando, who proceeded to load the bases and walk in a run.

"I fell behind and left some balls up in the zone, and for a hitter like [Longoria], he's going to take advantage of it," said Holland, whose four walks were a season high. "When you put guys on base with walks like that, it only makes things tougher when you face [Longoria]."

The Rangers made things interesting toward the end of the game after Rays starter James Shields, who held the visitors to two runs (one earned) in seven innings, exited. Trailing, 7-2, the Rangers scored twice in the eighth, manufacturing runs off relievers Chad Qualls and Randy Choate.

Then, after the Rays tacked on a run in the bottom half of the inning, Mitch Moreland hit a two-run homer to right with one out off Lance Cormier before Rays closer Rafael Soriano was summoned to slam the door, striking out Taylor Teagarden and inducing a flyout by Joaquin Arias.

One of the positive things to come out of Wednesday's loss was the emergence of Teagarden, who went 2-for-4 with his fourth homer of the season. Teagarden, who came a few feet from hitting another homer in the seventh with a deep drive to center, is 7-for-22, including all four of his homers this season, in six starts since his July 24 recall from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

"I made some adjustments when I was in Oklahoma City, and I've been trying to relax and keep my swing smooth and easy," said Teagarden, who went 1-for-27 with 17 strikeouts and four walks in his first stint with the Rangers before being optioned. "I've been more relaxed up there [at the plate], and it's allowed me to feel more confident."

The rest of the Rangers, meanwhile, had two hits and a walk against Shields during the right-hander's 105-pitch outing. The Rangers scored an unearned run against the 11-game winner when Andres Blanco singled in the sixth to lead off the inning, advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw and scored on a wild pitch.

The Rangers now head to Baltimore to face the Orioles, who swept them in four games in Arlington right before the All-Star break.

"We just have to move on and get things turned around in Baltimore," Washington said.

Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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