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Pitching a concern after Tuesday's loss

Pitching a concern after Tuesday's loss

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BOSTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels blamed it on "Sweet Caroline," the song they play in the middle of the eighth inning at Fenway Park.

"I never did like Neil Diamond," Daniels said.

He has reason. The Red Sox responded to "Sweet Caroline" by scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Tuesday night to erase the Rangers' one-run lead. Boston went on to win, 19-17, in a game that tied the American League record for the most runs scored.

It's the third time in five games at Fenway Park this year that the Rangers blew a lead in the bottom of the eighth inning after the crowd was fired up by Diamond and Caroline. But this one came after Texas rallied from 10 runs down to take a 16-14 lead in the top of the sixth. But like they say in football, the Rangers rallied too quickly and left too much time for the Red Sox to come back.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rangers became the first AL team in history to score 17 runs and lose. The other 522 times an AL team scored that many, they won.

"We just couldn't stop anybody," manager Ron Washington said after his pitching staff's ERA went up to 5.39, the highest in the Major Leagues.

As it stands right now, that ERA is only the fifth highest in club history. The Rangers had a 5.71 ERA in 2001 and a 5.67 ERA in 2003, the last time they finished over 5.00 in a season. But that's hardly consolation for a team that began this road trip clinging to the hope of remaining in the Wild Card race.

"The pitching has not been good," Daniels said. "There have been flashes, but we need more than flashes. We need to see consistency, and we need to see improvement. I trust there is a foundation of talent at the big league and Minor League levels, but we still have a lot of work to do to get over the hump.

"Major League teams can't do what we did last night. I'm not overreacting after one start, but all season long, the pitching has not been consistent. We knew coming into the year we were going to depend on young pitching and give them every opportunity. Unfortunately, the negative outings outweigh the positive outings. We have to get the equation pointed in the other direction."

The Rangers continue to shuffle things around.

• Vicente Padilla, who was supposed to start on Thursday, has been pushed back to Sunday because of inflammation in a joint on the right side of his neck.

• Rookie Tommy Hunter, making his third Major League start, will replace Padilla on Thursday.

• Kevin Millwood will come off the disabled list and start on Friday. Matt Harrison follows on Saturday.

The Rangers did get some good pitching news on Tuesday, when Brandon McCarthy, who has been sidelined since Spring Training with an inflamed right elbow, threw six scoreless innings for Triple-A Oklahoma. He allowed one hit and a walk in the best of his six starts since he began pitching in the Minors.

"We had a scout there who said he was very good," Daniels said. "We'd like to see him at least one more time and make sure he can repeat it and come back strong. But that's what it looked like when we traded for him. His fastball and curveball were very good."

McCarthy might be able to contribute before the season is over, and the Rangers are hoping to get Eric Hurley back in September. Hurley is working out in Arizona but has not resumed throwing again. He is on the DL with a strained right shoulder, but the Rangers are planning on him pitching again this season.

"I think there's a good chance to get him ready for that," Daniels said. "I want him to pitch again. He has a chance to be one of our best five, but we need him to pitch and get better."

He's hardly the only one.

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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