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Rangers build lead, watch it slip away

Rangers build lead, watch it slip away

ARLINGTON -- Outfielder Marlon Byrd had a simple answer for it all.

"Bad baseball," he said quietly.

Manager Ron Washington pretty much felt the same way.

"We just played five bad baseball games," Washington said after an extended postgame meeting with general manager Jon Daniels. "Whatever bad could happen, it happened. Whatever mistakes could be made, we made them, physically and mentally. But the only way to get out of this funk is to play ourselves out of it."

The Rangers certainly played themselves into the funk with some head-scratching mistakes, and that continued on Tuesday afternoon when they extended their losing streak to five games with a 7-4 loss to the Angels at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Three baserunning mistakes ending up costing the Rangers, who couldn't hold a four-run lead after three innings and ended up 2-6 on their first homestand.

Ian Kinsler was picked off first base in the first inning, Josh Hamilton was thrown out trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt in the ninth and -- perhaps most costly -- David Murphy was thrown out on a potential RBI triple when Byrd inexplicably was held up at third base when it appeared he was going to score easily.

All three plays hurt, and so did losing Kevin Millwood after five innings. Millwood was hit in the left shin on a comebacker to the mound in the second. He tried to stay in the game and did make it through five innings before he finally had to come out of the game after throwing just 70 pitches.

"After I first got hit, it went away a little bit, but then I sat down and it started stiffening up," Millwood said. "It got a little bit worse after every inning, and the fifth inning was the worst."

Millwood took a 4-0 lead into the fourth inning, but Casey Kotchman hit a two-run homer to cut the Rangers' lead in half, and then the Angels added another run on singles by Jeff Mathis, Erick Aybar and Chone Figgins. They tied it up in the fifth on doubles by Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson. Millwood exited after that inning.

"I felt good," Millwood said. "I felt pretty sharp. It was just one of those situations where every time I landed on my front foot, I'd wince a little bit. I'm not blaming that on giving up four runs, but that didn't help."

Millwood said he expects to be ready for his next start on Sunday in Boston.

"He stood out there and gave us five," Washington said. "He was in good control, placing the ball down in the zone and moving it around. He's certainly a warrior."

Josh Rupe took over and the Angels jumped on him for three runs in the sixth. Former Rangers center fielder Gary Matthews delivered the big blow with a three-run double. The Angels were 5-for-12 batting with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, while the Rangers were 1-for-8. They are hitting .178 with runners in scoring position on the season, the lowest in the league.

But it was baserunning that stood out on Jackie Robinson Day, especially in the seventh inning after Byrd, pinch-hitting for Frank Catalanotto, was hit by a pitch. Murphy followed with a drive to the wall in left-center and the ball caromed away from center fielder Torii Hunter as he tried to run it down.

That made it seem for certain that Murphy would have a triple, and he clearly thought so. But Byrd pulled up at third base, even though third-base coach Matt Walbeck was waving him home while Murphy kept running.

"It's called running the bases wrong," Byrd said. "I had a brain freeze. I got to third base and thought he was going to hold me, but he was waving me on. When you're scuffling, you have to do everything right."

Murphy accepted his share of the blame.

"I just assumed if I was going to make it to third base easily, then Marlon would score," Murphy said. "It was my fault for running with my head down. You don't want to leave a game like that wondering what might have been."

The Rangers did. The seventh inning was their last real threat. They now go on a road trip to Toronto, Boston and Detroit trying to get straightened out what they couldn't do at home.

"We just have to try and forget about this and keep playing hard," third baseman Hank Blalock said. "Everybody knows what we need to do, just keep preparing and playing hard, and everything will work out."

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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