ARLINGTON -- Basketball coaches say their team needs a stop. Football coaches call it a defensive stand. Baseball managers say their pitchers need to put some "zeroes" on the board. One or two would have been sufficient. The Rangers didn't get them, not after rallying from a four-run deficit to take a one-run lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. They didn't get the stop, the stand or the zeroes. Instead, the Boston Red Sox scored two runs off Wes Littleton in the fifth and four off Frank Francisco in the sixth, two big innings that propelled them to a 10-6 victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday night.
Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy had problems of his own, having to endure a one-hour, 57-minute rain delay before being forced to leave the game after just two innings because of a blister on his right middle finger. The Rangers don't think he'll miss his next start, but his finger wasn't looking very pretty in the clubhouse afterward. "I've struggled with my control before, but not like that," said McCarthy, who walked four in the second inning and all four runners scored. "It's frustrating because I felt good everywhere else. Everything was fine until I threw the ball." McCarthy said the problem first occurred on Thursday, when he lost a layer of skin off the finger. He said that often happens and he uses medicated cream to toughen up the new layer of skin. But that didn't work on a wet, humid night. "The humidity, the rain, the moisture, it was combining to get the finger wet and the skin just started to fall off," McCarthy said. "This has happened a little bit in the past but never to the point where it affected me and I had to come out of the game." McCarthy walked four of the first five batters in the second. "He just couldn't find his control," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "When you face a team like that, they're not going to swing if it's not over the plate. If you walk four guys in an inning against a team like that, eventually somebody is going to get you." The game was delayed at start by a rain storm, and the Rangers are compensating fans for the inconvenience by allowing them to use their ticket stub for an upper level ticket for a future game. Some blackout games apply. The weather and the intense humidity seemed to bother both pitchers. Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was dealing with nausea all night long and it finally got to him in the fourth inning, when a pair of two-run home runs by Frank Catalanotto and Ramon Vazquez helped the Rangers score five runs to take a 5-4 lead. "We handled him well," Washington said. "He's a very good pitcher with the stuff he has but we did a very good job making him throw it across the plate and not chase it." If the Rangers could have stopped the Red Sox right there, it could have easily been a totally different night. Instead, Littleton, who had followed McCarthy with two scoreless innings, gave up a single to Kevin Youkilis, a run-scoring double to David Ortiz and a single to Manny Ramirez to give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. The Rangers tried to come back in the bottom of the inning. Michael Young led off with a double and Mark Teixeira drew a walk. But Matsuzaka got Sammy Sosa to hit into a double play and then struck out Catalanotto to end the threat. "[Matsuzaka] pitched pretty well," Catalanotto said. "We were equal to the task, unfortunately we weren't able to score enough runs." Washington, hoping to keep it close, then brought in Francisco, who had a 1.76 ERA coming into the game. But he left it with a 4.02 ERA as the Red Sox jumped him for four runs in one-third of an inning before Washington called in Scott Feldman to stop the bleeding. "Francisco has been doing a great job, but tonight he just didn't get it done," Washington said. "I have a lot of confidence in him." Rangers relievers entered the game with a 2.95 ERA for May and a 3.63 ERA for the season. But they've also pitched 173 innings, the most in the American League, and on a wet Friday night, they just couldn't pitch one or two scoreless innings when the Rangers really needed them most.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.