Rangers come up short in finale

Rangers come up short in finale

ARLINGTON -- Derek Holland's afternoon began with a five-pitch walk to Dodgers leadoff hitter Juan Pierre. It was the beginning of a five-inning struggle.

"It was just a bad day," Holland said after the Rangers lost to the Dodgers, 6-3, for the second time in three games.

The Rangers' offense began the afternoon by scoring two runs in the first on a walk, two singles and a botched double play by the Dodgers. That was the pinnacle of the Rangers' offensive performance on an afternoon in which their June hitting slump only grew worse.

"No, it's not very good," Kinsler said after the Rangers finished with six hits against Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley and two relievers on Sunday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark.

Everybody's day ended with Andruw Jones being called out on strikes in the bottom of the ninth, then turning and yelling at home plate umpire Sam Holbrook before being led away in the 92-degree heat by third-base coach Dave Anderson.

It was just not a good afternoon for the Rangers overall as they lost for the eighth time in the past 13 games and are now just 2 1/2 games ahead of the Angels in the American League West.

Holland allowed four runs in five innings while giving up five hits and four walks. The big blow was a three-run home run by Casey Blake in the third inning, but Holland was most disturbed by the four walks. Two of them came around to score.

"Four walks ... that's high," Holland said. "That's not good enough. That shows I didn't go after hitters. I was falling behind in the count. I've got to go after hitters. I'm really hard on myself and this just wasn't very good. I was doing a very good job of locating the ball. I just didn't attack the zone enough."

Instead, he lost his third straight start and is now 0-3 with a 7.08 ERA in four starts since going into the rotation. He has an 8.54 ERA in his past seven games overall to raise his ERA from 1.74 to 6.63.

"It's a learning process," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He'll get there. He's learning. He's facing professional hitters. He understands that when you get into trouble, you've got to continue to pitch. You can't give in. He'll continue to get better. When he left the game, we were still in it. We were only down, 4-3."

Rangers pitchers overall walked seven on the afternoon. The Rangers are now 2-7 this season in games in which their pitchers walk at least six batters.

"They made Derek work from his first pitch," Washington said. "They made every single one of our pitchers work. They are a good contact-hitting team, they've got a little speed and they've got a little pop."

The Rangers didn't work the Dodgers pitchers quite as hard. They drew just one walk, the 29th time this season they've walked two or fewer times in a game. The Rangers are 14-15 when that happens. The Dodgers, who have the best record in in baseball, have just 14 games with two or fewer walks.

"We'll just keep working," Washington said. "They haven't lost confidence. We just went through a bad week. In the game of baseball, that happens."

The Rangers' offense peaked in the first inning. After that, Billingsley and relievers Ramon Troncoso and Jonathan Broxton allowed just four hits the rest of the way. Jones hit a home run in the fourth -- a solo shot -- but that was the Rangers' only extra-base hit.

The Rangers are hitting just .223 with a .274 on-base percentage and a .348 slugging percentage for the month of June while averaging 3.25 runs per game. Last year they averaged 5.9 runs per game in June while hitting .277 with a .471 slugging percentage. The month is only half over, but this would be the franchise's lowest batting average for June since hitting .218 in 1967, when they were the Washington Senators.

"Everybody needs to take it upon themselves to try to be a leader and make something happen," outfielder David Murphy said. "Not in any way put too much pressure upon themselves, but you can't expect other guys to carry the weight. You've got to make sure each individual carries their weight and do their part."

The guy who usually carries the most weight is Josh Hamilton, who is on the disabled list until at least the All-Star break with a partial torn abdominal muscle that was repaired last week by surgery. The Rangers have boasted all season about being able to win without him in the lineup or when he is not at his best. But it is possible that the longer the season progresses, the more they are missing Hamilton's presence in the middle of the lineup.

"What can you do," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "We've been dealing with that. You can say we miss Josh all you want, but we've got to keep playing until he's back in the lineup."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.