"The amount of runs we scored, we should have won the game," Lee said. "That's a letdown when we score nine runs and lose the game. That's not a good job by me keeping us in the game."
Lee did not pitch well for the fifth straight game and the Rangers are now 3-8 in his 11 starts. But he was more irritated by his third-inning throwing error that allowed the Royals to score three unearned runs.
"I feel like if I throw the ball to second and turn two, we win the game," Lee said. "The thing that most disappointed me was throwing that ball into center field."
The loss was the Rangers' eighth loss in their last 14 games but they still have an 8 1/2-game lead over the Athletics in the American League West.
"It was a long one," third baseman Michael Young said. "We battled. They ended up with one more run than we did but we played hard."
Young had four of the Rangers 16 hits. He had one of their four home runs. But Rangers hitters still weren't deflecting any blame either.
"It would have been nice to pull it out for our pitchers," David Murphy said. "They have pulled us out of plenty of games. It happens. It's too bad we couldn't get one more run for them."
But most obvious about Tuesday's game is Lee continues to struggle on the mound. Lee remains winless in his last five starts after getting knocked out in the fifth inning. Lee now has an 8.28 ERA in his last five starts. In 29 1/3 innings, he has allowed 30 runs -- 27 earned -- on 44 hits while walking just three.
"I've struggled before," Lee said. "I've just got to focus on my routine and preparation, stay positive and push forward. I'm not going to sit here and whine and make excuses."
The Rangers weren't doing that Tuesday night. They also weren't expressing concern about Lee either.
"We're not worried at all," Young said. "Cliff is one of the best pitchers in baseball for a reason. There's not one bit of a concern. His resume speaks for itself. Anytime he is on the mound we feel we can win the ballgame."
Each of Lee's past three starts have been his shortest of the season as he has gone from 5 2/3 against the Orioles to five innings against the Twins to 4 2/3 innings against the Royals. This time he allowed seven runs on 10 hits. Only four of the runs were earned but that's because his throwing error in the third inning cost him three unearned runs.
"Tonight he got the ball up," Washington said. "We tried to get him through the fifth but he couldn't hit his spots. All we can do is battle with him and help him get through this. That's how you handle it."
Lee, holding a 2-1 lead, had trouble getting through the third inning but it was his throws to second base that caused much of the problem. After Gregor Blanco led off the inning with a single, Lee fielded Mike Aviles' grounder back to the mound and threw wildly to second base trying to get the force. Both runners were safe and the Royals ended up scoring three that inning
"I wasn't locating the ball as well but it boils down to throwing the ball into center field," Lee said. "That was the difference in us winning and losing the game."
The Rangers stormed back on home runs by Murphy and Vladimir Guerrero to take a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the fifth. But Lee was knocked out in a five-run fifth inning. A two-run double by Alex Gordon tied the score. Gordon entered the game hitting .212 off left-handed hitters before going 2-for-3 against Lee.
Lee left after Gordon's double. Matt Harrison replaced him but gave up two-run double by Jai Miller. Harrison then couldn't come up with Blanco's slow roller, bobbling it for an error, and Aviles made it 9-6 on an RBI single.
The Rangers kept Lee from being handed his fourth straight loss by scoring three runs in the top of the sixth against reliever Jesse Chavez. Mitch Moreland hit a one-out home run and three straight two-out doubles by Elvis Andrus, Young and Josh Hamilton tied the score.
It stayed that way until the decisive wild pitch in the ninth.