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Rangers' late rally comes up short

Rangers' late rally comes up short

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ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington, with one of his best bunters at the plate, called for his first suicide squeeze of the season in Monday night's 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

The Rangers, after being down 4-0, needed one more run in a sixth-inning rally to tie the game. From there, Washington was willing to take his chances in a battle of bullpens.

"If we get it down there and tie the game, you never know what might happen," Washington said later.

Elvis Andrus just didn't get the bunt down. Instead he missed the pitch completely, Marlon Byrd was caught off third and the Rangers' best rally fizzled.

The Rangers, with the Angels off on Monday night, now have a four-game lead in the American League West after losing the first of a 10-game homestand following the trip to New York and Boston.

"It was tough," third baseman Michael Young said. "I thought we came out flat and didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had tonight. We're back from the road trip, today and tonight we got situated, tomorrow we need to come back with a better effort."

Rangers starter Scott Feldman took the loss by giving up a season-high four runs in six innings and had a five-game winning streak come to an end. Vernon Wells and Adam Lind did all the damage. Wells twice led off an inning by drawing walks and Lind followed each time with a two-run home run.

Feldman walked Wells on five pitches to lead off the second inning and Lind hit a 1-1 changeup over the right-field wall for a two-run home run. In the fourth, Feldman walked Wells on four pitches and then Lind, after working the count full, drove a fastball the other way, clearing the left-field wall for another two-run home run.

"Both of those pitchers were up in the zone," Feldman said. "I'm not too good up in the zone. Those two pitches were the game right there."

The four runs given up by Feldman were the most he has given up in a start this season. The Rangers righty had not only won his previous three starts and all five decisions this season, but he had also recorded an official "quality start" in each of his past six outings. Texas is now 8-2 when Feldman starts.

"He was off," Washington said. "He wasn't pounding the strike zone like he normally does. But if he doesn't get those two balls up, it's still a pretty good performance."

Blue Jays starter Casey Janssen, making just his fourth start of the season, held the Rangers scoreless through five innings, allowing three hits, a walk and a hit batter while striking out five.

Then he got into trouble in the sixth when Hank Blalock led off the inning with a walk and Nelson Cruz singled to center. Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill then bobbled David Murphy's grounder to load the bases.

The Rangers got one run on Marlon Byrd's infield single and another when Chris Davis swung and missed for strike three on a wild pitch that skipped to the backstop. That moved runners to second and third and, after Jason Fraser came in to pitch, Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined a single past Hill to make it 4-3 with Byrd stopping at third.

That brought up Andrus, the Rangers' No. 9 hitter and leads the team in sacrifice bunts. With a count of 1-1, Washington called for the bunt, but Andrus missed it completely and Byrd was trapped off third. Catcher Rod Barajas ran him back to third and just barely got the tag down on him as Byrd dove back to the bag.

"We had the right guy in the right situation to get it done," Washington said. "He just didn't get it done."

Andrus said it's the first time in two years that he was asked to squeeze bunt. But he and Washington had discussed the possibility while they were in New York on the last road trip and said he was ready when he got the sign.

"The pitch surprised me a little bit," Andrus said. "My bat was low, but the pitch cut to the outside."

Said Barajas, "It was a pitch that should have been bunted. It kind of surprised me when he missed."

Byrd, who almost out-foxed Barajas in the rundown dance, looked surprised at third base when he dove back into the bag and was called out. He thought Barajas might have missed the tag.

"I wasn't sure," Byrd said. "I trust the umpires. I was just trying to get back any way I could. It's hard to feel the tag on a bang-bang play."

Saltalamacchia went to second on the play, leaving Texas at least with a runner in scoring position, but Andrus flied to right to end the rally. The Rangers ended the night with just two hits in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring.

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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