Kirkman struggling, Scheppers thriving out of 'pen

Kirkman struggling, Scheppers thriving out of 'pen

CHICAGO -- Rangers manager Ron Washington was hoping Michael Kirkman could have closed out a four-run lead in the ninth inning against the Cubs on Tuesday. Kirkman had a 4-0 lead and retired the first two hitters. But he gave up a single and a walk and Washington had to go with closer Joe Nathan.

The Rangers hung on for a 4-2 win, but Washington still plans on using Kirkman for late-inning work.

"You just keep giving him the ball in situations when he has a hiccup, he can still work out of it," Washington said. "He's going to be important in that bullpen, so we're going to keep giving him the ball. We've got to figure out a way to get him right and the only way is to give him the ball."

Tanner Scheppers, on the other hand, continues to establish himself as Texas' primary eighth-inning setup reliever. He pitched a scoreless eighth on Tuesday and has not allowed a run in 7 1/3 innings over seven appearances this season.

"Things are feeling good," Scheppers said. "I'm just going out there and doing my piece of the puzzle, just be able to trust your stuff. I'm seeing results on certain pitches and staying with what my strengths are."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.