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Instead of W's, Rangers can only see O's

Instead of W's, Rangers can only see O's

BALTIMORE -- The Rangers lost their fourth straight game Thursday night -- a 4-0 blanking at the hands of the Orioles that didn't leave third baseman Michael Young at a loss for words. Young is tired of uninspired play, especially when it's magnified by a loss to the worst team in the American League, an Orioles squad the Rangers suddenly can't beat.

"Go out and play with some energy. Play the game as we've played it all year long," said Young. "Occasionally during the season, you run into a funk and you find a way to snap out as quickly as possible. The best way to do that is to go out there and play the style of baseball we play."

Colby Lewis' run of tough luck continued, as he remained stuck on nine victories for a sixth consecutive start. Baltimore broke open a scoreless game with a four-run seventh, and lefty Brian Matusz worked a career-high-tying eight shutout innings, beating Texas for the Orioles' fifth straight victory over the Rangers, whose lead over the Angels, who beat the Red Sox, 5-2, decreased to seven games.

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"We got to feel fortunate that the other teams in the West aren't playing well right now. We continue to hold our lead," Lewis said. "We have an opportunity to run away with it and we need to ... play a little better, really. It's a situation where we aren't playing really good ball right now and just battle through it. It's fortunate we have a cushion."

While Lewis continues to search for the right recipe for victory, another troubling trend continued for the Rangers, who again struggled to score runs for the right-hander. In his last six starts, Texas has only seven runs.

"Sometimes you get pitchers who go out there and they don't have the luxury of getting runs, and just lately, Colby has been that guy," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We just haven't been able to put runs on the board for him. He battles and we battle, and the time is going to come when we're going to pick him up."

The seventh-inning outburst gave new Orioles manager Buck Showalter his first victory against the Rangers, who dismissed him after the 2006 season. Texas lost its fourth straight overall and sixth road game in a row, matching a season high established on April 15-21. The Orioles, who had lost four of five, snapped a two-game skid.

For a while, it appeared as if Lewis, 0-5 in six starts since his last victory July 16 in Boston, would give Texas a chance for retribution after Baltimore swept four games in Arlington right before the All-Star break. Lewis (9-10) allowed four runs on nine hits, walked one and struck out four.

The right-hander blanked the Orioles through six innings, but had to wiggle out of a jam in the third after Baltimore loaded the bases on a leadoff double by Matt Wieters, a one-out flare to center by Cesar Izturis and a walk to Brian Roberts. Lewis, however, buckled down to strike out Nick Markakis and Ty Wigginton swinging.

Tempers flared in the top of the sixth when Texas' Andres Blanco was thrown out at third trying to stretch a leadoff double into a triple. Blanco took exception to the way Orioles third baseman Wigginton blocked the bag with his right knee as he came down after leaping to catch second baseman Roberts' relay.

Blanco didn't immediately leave the field after being called out by home-plate umpire Tim McClelland and briefly exchanged heated words with Wigginton before third-base coach Dave Anderson got between the players as the benches and bullpens began to spill onto the field.

Blanco said he was angry that Wigginton dropped his knee, which could have resulted in a hand or finger injury because of his head-first slide.

"It's just part of the game, trying to get the extra base," Blanco said. "You got somebody who blocks the base and you get out. It just happen. That's the first time I get into something with somebody from the other team."

Showalter saw nothing wrong with the play, which he called a "textbook" example of how to block the bag once Wigginton had received the relay.

Maybe Blanco was maddened by Wigginton's proclamation after McClelland's call: "I just said, 'You're out.'"

Lewis' luck finally ran out in the seventh when, with one out, Felix Pie inside-outed an opposite-field single to left and Wieters followed with a bouncer through the hole between first and second, putting runners at the corners. Corey Patterson then ripped an 0-1 fastball for an RBI single to center and a 1-0 Baltimore lead.

Izturis moved the runners up with a groundout, and Roberts made it 3-0 with a double that just eluded Brandon Boggs' dive in right-center. Darren Oliver relieved, and Markakis made it 4-0 with a single to left.

Washington was clearly upset that Boggs didn't make the play what he considered a catchable ball to preserve a 1-0 deficit.

"We had a ball out there that would have kept the game at 1-0, but it got past Brandon and it put four runs on the board. I thought he was all over the ball, but he just didn't catch it," Washington said.

Boggs' response: He lost the ball in the lights.

"I got a good read on it, I got a good jump on it. As soon as I started going down, the ball just got right in the lights," Boggs said. "All I tried to do is get my glove as close as possible to it. You just can't see the ball. Stuff happens like that."

Whatever the Rangers tried against Matusz didn't work. Matusz (5-12) yielded five hits, walked one and struck out six. He allowed only run runner to reach second base after the second inning -- Blanco on the sixth-inning double.

"We're not getting enough runners on the bag, we're not getting enough big hits when we have opportunities. We need the guys in that lineup that produce runs to produce runs and it's just not happening right now. You go through that spell," Washington said.

Pete Kerzel 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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