Rangers see early lead slip away

Rangers see early lead slip away

ARLINGTON -- Rangers owner Tom Hicks watched from his front-row seat as long as he could, but finally gave up in the top of the eighth.

He apparently wasn't interested in the fireworks that were scheduled for following the game. The in-game meltdown, accompanied by vocal displays of customer dissatisfaction, was enough for him. This one was rough even by Rangers standards of late.

The Rangers, behind the pitching of Sidney Ponson, had a 5-2 lead after five innings and then fell apart, allowing the Twins to come storming back for a 12-6 victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"I thought Ponson was good," manager Ron Washington said. "He got to the sixth inning, and then the tires came off."

The final totals included five unearned runs on three errors and one passed ball. There were also three fly balls that ticked off outfielder's gloves that were scored hits.

The Rangers have lost 13 of their last 16 games and are now 8-17, tied for the second worst record after 25 games in club history. The Rangers were 7-18 after 25 games in 1982. The Rangers have committed 27 errors in 25 games, leading to 22 unearned runs.

Ponson, just called up from Triple-A Oklahoma, allowed five runs in 51/3 innings, but only one of them was earned. His own throwing contributed to the sixth-inning mess.

"I went out there and did what I had to do," Ponson said. "I'm happy with that. My velocity was there, and my sinker was sinking. But the outcome was not good. You can't be happy if you lose the game."

The Rangers did, and it all turned on the sixth frame, as bad a inning as they have had all year.

Brendan Harris started the inning with a fly ball into the right-center-field gap. Right-fielder David Murphy raced over and got his glove on it, but couldn't hold it. It was scored a double.

"[It was] very catchable," Murphy said. "I'm not saying it's an easy play, but I definitely should have had that."

Joe Mauer then hit a grounder back to the mound. Ponson snagged it and had Harris going to third. But his throw sailed past third baseman Ramon Vazquez, allowing Harris to score and Mauer to reach second. Vazquez turned his ankle on the plate, but remained in the game.

He was fine on a grounder by Morneau for the first out of the inning, but then bobbled a grounder by Michael Cuddyer for the second error of the inning.

"He was in front of the ball," Washington said. "The ankle didn't have anything to do with it. He just got caught flat-footed."

Jason Kubel then singled to right to bring home Mauer and end Ponson's night. Jamey Wright took over, walking Delmon Young to load the bases before Mike Lamb's sacrifice fly brought home the tying run.

Wright was able to keep it tied, but Harris once again got the Twins started in the seventh with a leadoff single. Washington then brought in Eddie Guardado for a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup with Mauer. But Mauer dropped a perfect bunt down the third baseline for a hit. Morneau moved the runners up with a grounder back to the mound, Cuddyer was walked intentionally and Guardado got Kubel to pop out for the second out.

That brought up Young, a right-handed hitter, and Washington brought in right-hander Franklyn German to face him. German immediately got behind, 2-0, in the count. When he threw a strike, Young smacked it to left for a two-run single. Lamb's single up the middle made it 8-5.

"[It's] very disappointing," Washington said. "We certainly wanted to play well, and for five innings, we did. But in the sixth inning, we made some mistakes that cost us, and in the seventh, we couldn't get that one out."

The Twins, aided by shortstop Michael Young's throwing error, added four more in the eighth, as Michael Cuddyer put the finishing touches on the affair with a three-run home run off Scott Feldman.

By then, it was over, and the owner seemed to know it as well as anybody.

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