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Starting at top, Rangers' offense held in check

Starting at top, Rangers' offense held in check

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ARLINGTON -- After combining for 11 runs and 19 hits over the first two games of the American League Division Series, it seemed inevitable the Rangers' offense would keep it going in Game 3 in front of a record crowd at the Ballpark in Arlington.

But it wasn't to be on Saturday, as the Rangers were held to just six hits in a 6-3 loss to the Rays that forced Game 4 on Sunday.

"They pitched well against us," said David Murphy, who had one of the club's six hits. "That's the way the game's played. You're not going to come out there and score 10 runs every game or even five runs."


The offense was hard-pressed to score, with those struggles most evident at the top of the lineup with Elvis Andrus, Michael Young and Josh Hamilton combining to go just 1-for-12 with an infield single and five strikeouts.

It was a far cry from their performance in their 6-0 victory in Game 2, when the trio combined for five hits, including a three-run homer from Young.

But Young noted their approach wasn't any different on Saturday despite the results.

"Our mentality didn't really change," Young said. "We wanted to be aggressive in the zone, but there were times we expanded the zone a little bit more than we usually do."

The Rangers were simply held in check by Rays right-hander Matt Garza, who allowed just two runs -- one earned -- on five hits over six-plus innings.

The Rangers managed to strike first with a run in the third inning when Mitch Moreland doubled, reached third on a passed ball and scored on an RBI groundout by Andrus. And they later retook the lead in the seventh on a solo homer by Ian Kinsler that knocked Garza from the game.

But it was all the Rangers could muster against Garza, as he kept his club in the game with his season-saving performance for the Rays.

"We just didn't get 'em today," Hamilton said. "We got him good enough to get him out of there, but we didn't do what we wanted to do with him."

Hamilton, who has been battling soreness stemming from two small fractures in his right rib cage, said he feels "good enough" to play but so far has struggled a bit in the series with a .167 average (2-for-12). He went 0-for-4 on Saturday.

He struck out twice against Garza and said he just couldn't lay off the right-hander's tough breaking ball.

"That slow curveball. I saw it a lot," Hamilton said with a smile. "I thought I waited long enough, but I guess not."

The Rangers have certainly waited long enough in between postseason berths -- they last made the playoffs in 1999 -- and know they still have a change to regroup and take the series in front of their home crowd on Sunday.

"They had a well-earned win in a hard-fought game, so we'll come out tomorrow and make some adjustments," Young said. "We'll clear some things and come out ready to play hard."

Rhett Bollinger 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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