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With Wilson, Texas sees no drop-off from Cliff

With Wilson, Texas sees no drop-off from Cliff

ST. PETERSBURG -- It takes some kind of performance to upstage Cliff Lee in the postseason, but Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson came up with one on Thursday.

The lesser known of the team's left-handed one-two punch held the Rays scoreless for 6 1/3 innings at Tropicana Field, drawing rave reviews after a 6-0 Texas victory in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

"C.J. was awesome," Rangers third baseman Michael Young said. "C.J. was story of the game. They have a great team over there and to hold them down like that ... it was impressive."

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Lee agreed.

"Anytime you can pitch into the seventh inning and not give up any runs is pretty darn good," said Lee, who surrendered one run over seven innings in Texas's Game 1 win. "He knows how to pitch."

Wilson, a closer-turned-starter, allowed two hits, walked two and a hit batter.

Only two of the runners reached scoring position -- both in the seventh inning.

"He really showed maturity out there," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He stayed within himself and used all of his pitches. We needed him to go out there and give us a good outing, and he did."

The first batter Wilson faced, Jason Barlett, singled. The next 10 batters were retired and the Rays were held hitless for the next six innings. When Wilson wobbled just a little, in the seventh, the Rangers were ahead by six runs.

His last pitch was a called third strike on Kelly Shoppach with runners on second and third and nobody out. It was Wilson's seventh strikeout overall and the fifth one that ended on a called third strike.

For most of the game, it seemed that when the Rays hitters were looking for something hard and inside, he would throw something soft and outside and the other way around.

"He used all of his pitches and used both sides of the plate," catcher Matt Treanor said. "He kept guys off-balance, got ahead in the count, and did all of those cliche things we talk about when guys do well."

Wilson, a 15-game winner during the regular season for the AL West champions, said he drew inspiration from watching Lee beat the Rays during the day and then Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay pitch a no-hitter on Wednesday night.

"Cliff is the perfect guy for me to stream off of because he doesn't walk anybody and that's really my weakness and putting guys on base unnecessarily," Wilson said. "I have good stuff, so I can challenge guys the way he does, but you get more comfortable when you see somebody that has pretty much the same stuff as you do it right in front of you."

"That said, Wilson still had to go out and pitch his own game.

"He stepped up and pitched a great game," Treanor said, "but I have seen him pitch games like that before. It's not like he doesn't go out there and do that."

Just as Lee did the previous day, Wilson kept baserunners to a minimum and took advantage of an offense that scored first, second and third.

The Rangers gave him a one-run lead in the third, another run in the fourth and four big ones in the fifth and pitching coach Mike Maddux was impressed with each half-inning after the runs scored.

"Each time we scored, he went out there and posted a zero," Maddux said.

"I can't say enough about what he did today," Treanor said. "He was really good."

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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