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Loe struggles with control woes

Loe struggles with control woes

SEATTLE -- Kameron Loe has had his problems, just like any average red-blooded Rangers starting pitcher.

Walking batters has not been one of them, at least until Saturday night. Loe, going into Saturday's start, had walked just 2.5 batters per nine innings, 18th lowest in the American League and the lowest on the Rangers among qualifying pitchers.

But wildness can be contagious, just like any other malady that has inflicted Rangers pitchers this year, and Loe succumbed to it on Saturday. He walked four in 5 1/3 innings and three came in to score, critical runs that carried the Seattle Mariners to a 5-4 victory over the Rangers at Safeco Field.

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"I hate walking guys," Loe said. "I have always considered myself a strike-thrower who goes after hitters and makes them hit the ball on the ground. I don't nibble. I just lost my control a little bit, but I wasn't trying to be too fine trying to make good pitches. I just lost my arm slot for a minute or two."

Loe, after starting the season as a long reliever, entered the Rangers rotation on April 21 when Jamey Wright went down with shoulder inflammation and earned his first victory with 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a 7-0 victory over Oakland.

He is still looking for his second victory. Loe is now 0-5 with a 7.29 ERA in his last eight starts and is 1-5 with a 6.37 ERA on the season.

"It's been hard to swallow," Loe said. "I'm going to have bad times in my career, and hopefully I can get out of this quickly for myself and the team. There's not a whole lot I can change in my routine. I don't feel I need to change. I just need to keep working to get better."

Jamey Wright could be ready to come off the disabled list later this month, and there's a possibility that Loe could go back to the bullpen.

But manager Ron Washington, not once but twice, pointed out afterward, "Kam Loe got us to the sixth tonight. A few of our starters haven't gotten us that far."

The four walks were a season high. He had walked three batters in a game just once this season, and, amazingly enough, he had never once walked a batter to lead off an inning.

But he did that three times this game and two of them scored. The fourth walk came in a three-run sixth inning that gave the Mariners a 5-0 lead.

"He was just off a little bit, and that isn't characteristic of him," catcher Gerald Laird said. "Kam's got pretty good control. He got out of whack a little bit at the beginning of an inning but still settled down and made his pitches."

The leadoff batter was trouble for Loe all night. He retired the side in order in the first but allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in each of the next five innings, including Jose Guillen's home run to lead off the three-run sixth inning.

"When he needed to make his pitches in the first through fifth innings he did," Washington said. "In the sixth he left a slider up to Guillen and they ended up scoring three runs. That was the difference."

Walks gave the Mariners their big lead but walks also almost took it away. The Rangers trailed 5-0 in the seventh but rallied for three runs when Mariners starter Miguel Batista (6-4) and relievers Eric O'Flaherty and Brandon Morrow combined to walk four and hit a batter.

Morrow, with two outs, walked Mark Teixeira and Sammy Sosa to force in runs but struck out Frank Catalanotto to end the threat.

"Once again, we had the guys out there," Washington said. "We just needed one big hit. I've got to believe that eventually somebody is going to deliver."

Michael Young was the one that got hit. O'Flaherty plunked him in the left knee, and Young was hobbling around the clubhouse with a big icepack on it after the game.

"It's fine," Young said. "It's just swelling up a little bit."

T.R. Sullivan 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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