Rangers lack punch in series finale

Rangers lack punch in series finale

BOSTON -- Just when they thought it wouldn't get any worse, the Rangers lost both a starting pitcher and another game at Fenway Park.

Kason Gabbard had to leave Monday's game with back spasms after pitching two scoreless innings and the Rangers ended up losing, 8-3, to the Boston Red Sox on Patriots Day. The victory completed a four-game sweep for the Red Sox and the Rangers have now lost 36 of their last 48 games at Fenway Park.

The Rangers, having dropped to 7-13 on the season by losing nine of their last 11 games, now head to Detroit to open a three-game series with the Tigers.

"We've got a lot of things to overcome, a lot of adversity to overcome," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We'll see what kind of team we are and what kind of players we have and what kind of character we have. We need to show some mental toughness, go to Detroit and win at least two, then go home and play better. We have a lot in front of us."

At least Fenway Park is in their rearview mirrors.

"I'm glad it's over with," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I certainly thought we would fare better than we did."

Monday's game turned bad but the Rangers were still feeling the pain of blowing two leads in the eighth inning on Saturday and Sunday. That's what made the weekend in Boston hard to take, even with what happened on Monday.

"Things may have unraveled today but other than that, I felt we handled ourselves well," Washington said. "We played the Red Sox tough. We would have felt good about winning two here and I'm disappointed we didn't come away with the two we had."

It was especially tough on the bullpen. Rangers relievers came to Boston with a 2.85 ERA in their last 11 games and a 4.06 ERA for the season. But they ended up allowing 18 runs in 15 innings in the four-game series, including the blown saves on Saturday and Sunday.

Dustin Nippert took the brunt of this one after taking over for Gabbard. The Rangers' starter twisted his back trying to throw a pitching in the second and was forced out of the game after warming up for the third inning. Nippert took over and got through that inning without allowing a run.

But then came the fourth -- the type of inning that has been far too common for the Rangers in the early going of the season.

Nippert started the inning by walking J.D. Drew, one of 11 walks Rangers pitchers issued on the day. Nippert then committed a balk by faking a throw to first base.

The Red Sox had rookie Jed Lowrie try to bunt the runner over and he popped the ball up. But it went over Nippert's head and out toward shortstop, landing in no-man's land. The Rangers ended up having no play and the Red Sox had runners at the corners with still no outs.

"The initial thought was, 'Bunt it down the right side, hard past the pitcher,'" Lowrie said. "The pitch was away, so I tried to push it by him on that side. I didn't try to put it in the air. It was one of those things, I was trying to get it that way, hard on the ground past the pitcher, but it worked out when it got in the air."

Julio Lugo followed with a grounder up the middle that Nippert just missed snagging and it went into center field for a base hit. That scored the first run, Lowrie went to third and the Red Sox still had runners on the corners.

Nippert did get Kevin Cash on a soft liner to Kinsler and the Rangers had Lugo doubled off first base. But Kinsler bounced his throw past first baseman Ben Broussard and Lowrie ended up scoring the second run of the inning.

Nippert then retired Joe Thurston on a popup and could have been out of the inning with just one run scored. But the Red Sox weren't done. Dustin Pedroia doubled to right to score one run and David Ortiz followed with a high fly to left that Milton Bradley lost in the sun. The ball dropped for a double and another run scored.

The Red Sox were up, 5-0, and added three more in the fifth. The day -- and the weekend -- was pretty much over at that point.

"A tough day," catcher Gerald Laird. "A tough weekend. After winning two games in Toronto and beating Roy Halladay, we came riding in here pretty good. But losing two games we thought we should have won made it even tougher. We could have gotten out of here with a split, instead we got swept."

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