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In the end, valiant comeback for naught

In the end, comeback for naught

BOSTON -- They ran the full spectrum of emotions afterwards in the Rangers clubhouse.

There were some who felt pride in the incredible comeback, some who were stunned by the crushing loss, others who were embarrassed by their performance. One guy seemed to sum it all up succinctly.

"That was madness," outfielder Josh Hamilton said after the Rangers let a two-run lead slip away in the bottom of the eighth and turn it into a 19-17 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

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The Rangers trailed 10-0 in the first and 12-2 after four innings. By the time the seventh inning stretch rolled around, they had come back to take a 16-14 lead. And they still couldn't win. Instead, Kevin Youkilis hit a three-run home run off Rangers reliever Frank Francisco in the bottom of the eighth to win it for the Red Sox.

"We just couldn't shut the door," manager Ron Washington said. "We just had to get somebody in there [on the mound] to put up some zeroes, and it didn't happen. We got to the seventh and eighth, and we had who we wanted in there, and we didn't get it done."

This was like nothing seen before, even from a franchise steeped in a tradition of great offense and questionable pitching. Only one other time have the Rangers come back from being 10 runs down in a game to take the lead. They did that in 2004 against the Tigers. Texas won that game.

On Tuesday night, the Rangers dropped eight games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card standings.

"You can't get to the playoffs like this," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "Very disappointing. When you have a team down like that -- I don't care if it's the Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals -- coming back the way we did, you have to win that game. It hurts. I don't know what else to do."

The 36 runs scored tied an American League record for most runs in a game. The Rangers are the first AL team in at least 50 years to score 17 runs in a game and lose.

"It's a tough one to lose, a tough one to swallow," catcher Gerald Laird said. "Down 10-0, it would have been easy to pack it in and go through the motions. But we kept pecking away and grinding. But when you come back like that, you've got to get the job done. It's frustrating, but it's a team effort."

In the end, the Rangers just didn't get the job done on the mound, both at the start of the game or at the end. Scott Feldman gave up 10 runs in the first inning and 12 in the first three innings.

Jamey Wright, asked to hold a 16-14 lead, gave up an unearned run in the seventh, and Francisco allowed four in the eighth. He was one pitch away from walking off the mound with the lead.

Francisco had one on with two outs and was ahead 1-2 on Dustin Pedroia. But Francisco hung a curveball, and Pedroia belted it off the Green Monster for a game-tying double. David Ortiz, who hit a pair of three-run home runs in the first inning, was walked intentionally before Youkilis crushed a 2-0 fastball over the Monster and the seats on top of it to give the Red Sox a lead. It was his second home run of the night, too.

"I was trying to hit my spots and missed," Francisco said. "I didn't have my best command. I got behind in counts, and they took advantage of it."

Feldman gave up 12 runs, but only six were earned because of a first-inning error by third baseman Ramon Vazquez that led to six unearned runs. Feldman still set a Rangers record by allowing 10 runs in an inning and tied a record by giving up 12 runs in a game. He shares that one with John Burkett and Charlie Hough.

"It just seemed like I was getting behind on everybody," Feldman said. "A couple of times, I threw pitches where I wanted them, and they put good swings on them.

"But nobody should score 10 runs off you in the first inning. It's pretty embarrassing."

Feldman went 2 2/3 innings, because Washington couldn't burn up his bullpen quickly. He is looking at the possibility of starting two rookie pitchers in the next two games and had to save long man Dustin Nippert.

"My pitching staff is what it is," Washington said. "I'll give the ball to those guys tomorrow, if situation calls for it. We're just not getting it done. We have to get better. Nobody expected that out of Feldman. He just had a bad night.

"After the first inning, after they had us down 10 runs, I bet everybody in the ballpark thought it was over. Everybody in Massachusetts thought the game was over. You feel bad losing, but I'm very proud of the way my guys fought back.

"If they don't quit tonight, they never will."

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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