ARLINGTON -- Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir did what Indians pitchers Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia and others could not do the past few days. He ignored the vicious Prairie Wind that has turned Rangers Ballpark in Arlington into an extreme hitters paradise as of late and tamed the Rangers' torrid bats. Facing a team that had scored 55 runs in its previous six games, Kazmir held the Rangers to two runs on six hits in eight innings, pitching the Rays to a 12-4 victory on Friday night.
Kazmir has now won six straight games, including two over the Rangers. He beat them in Tampa Bay last month by holding them to just one run in seven innings. "He pounded the strike zone with everything," Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "He got his off-speed pitches over and was still throwing 95-96 [miles per hour] in the eighth inning. That's why he's the ERA leader in the American League." Kazmir out-pitched Vicente Padilla, who returned from the bereavement list and allowed just three runs in six innings. That was before the Rays broke it open with nine runs in the last two innings against relievers Robinson Tejeda and Kameron Loe. "It was a pretty good ballclub," manager Ron Washington said. "I thought it was going well, but we just couldn't hold them down at the end. Somebody has to do that. When we get down, I can't keep bringing in [Jamey] Wright, [Eddie] Guardado or [Frank] Francisco every night or we're not going to have them. Somebody else has to step up." Tejeda, with the score 3-1, pitched a scoreless seventh, but hurt himself in the eighth by first walking B.J. Upton to lead off the inning and then throwing a changeup after the Rangers guessed right on a pitchout. Upton beat the throw, and the Rays ended up scoring three that inning, including two on a two-out home run by Dioner Navarro. That made it 6-1, and the Rays added six runs off Loe in the ninth. They were all unearned because of errors by first baseman Chris Shelton and shortstop Ramon Vazquez. "I know we made mistakes behind Kam, but he's still got to do the job," Washington said. Better relief might have made a difference, as the Rangers scored three runs themselves in the final two innings. Ian Kinsler hit a home run off Kazmir in the eighth, and the Rangers added two more in the ninth against reliever Al Reyes. The story of the night, however, was Kazmir slowing down an offense that pummeled the Indians and Athletics over the last six games. "Everybody can look at it, we scored a bunch of runs, but it was all about Kaz tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We could not have done it tonight without him. The way he pitched tonight against that ballclub was spectacular. And it permitted us to stay in the game and score all those runs in the last few innings." The Rangers were without shortstop Michael Young, who sat out Friday night in the midst of a 21-game hitting streak because of a hairline fracture on the tip of the ring finger on his left hand. Josh Hamilton also had to leave the game after eight innings because of general fatigue, but both are supposed to be back in the lineup on Saturday. The Rangers, who had to start Gerald Laird at third, still had plenty of firepower in the lineup with Young, it just couldn't do much against Kazmir. He had a little trouble in the second, as Milton Bradley led off with a double, David Murphy reached on an infield single and Byrd gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly. But Kazmir then picked off Murphy, gave up a double to Laird, and then retired Chris Shelton on a grounder to third. That was about it, save for Kinsler's eighth-inning home run, as Kazmir retired 19 of the last 22 batters he faced. "We've put up a lot of runs lately," Laird said. "This offense has been clicking, so maybe we were due for a game like this. The guy came in and shut us down, but we didn't pitch well. We have to pitch better and take some of the pressure off the offense." Padilla took a 1-0 lead into the fifth, but gave up a game-tying home run to Evan Longoria to start the inning. Upton hit a home run with two outs in the sixth and another run later scored on a wild pitch.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.