Rangers offense falters in wild ending

Rangers offense falters in wild ending

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rangers president Nolan Ryan was at AT&T Park on Saturday as part of pregame ceremonies honoring Giants pitcher Randy Johnson for his 300th victory.

Ryan was also asked about the Rangers and if he was growing concerned about the way his ballclub was playing. He nodded emphatically and that was before the Rangers lost a 2-1 heartbreaker in 11 innings to the Giants.

"We have to pick it up," Ryan said before the game. "If we don't, we're in trouble. We just haven't hit and we just haven't hit in key situations."

The Rangers didn't pick it up. Instead, they managed just three hits over 11 innings against Giants starter Matt Cain, All-Star reliever Brian Wilson and winning pitcher Sergio Romo. They were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and wasted a terrific pitching performance by Derek Holland.

Instead, it ended with two outs in the 11th when Jason Jennings bounced a slider that got away from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and allowed Nate Schierholtz to score from third.

"Derek pitched his tail off," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That's what we've got to look forward to. He was excellent. The worst part is losing on a ball in the dirt. Salty has been excellent at blocking them. All we can do is get ready and come back again tomorrow."

Schierholtz led off the 11th with a fly ball down the left-field line that went for a double. Aaron Roward struck out and Edgar Renteria grounded out to shortstop, allowing Schierholtz to move to third. Pablo Sandoval was then walked intentionally.

That brought up Bengie Molina and the Rangers' plan was to pound him with sliders. He chased one way outside and then another in the dirt. But that one bounced off Saltalamacchia and toward the Giants dugout, allowing Schierholtz to score.

"We were going after him with sliders," Jennings said. "Clearly he wasn't picking them up. That was clearly the way to go. That stinks. A double that hits the chalk line and a wild pitch. Nice game."

For much of the night, the game belonged to Holland and Cain, who is one of the hottest pitchers in baseball. Holland was 0-3 with a 7.08 ERA in his first four starts but was able to match Cain pitch-for-pitch over seven innings in a terrific dominating pitching duel.

"He's a great pitcher; you have to tip your cap," Holland said. "At the same time, I have to go out there and compete. I had the same approach as usual, I just had better command. I had command of all my pitches. I was ready to step up."

The only mistake either pitcher made was allowing a home run to the opposing leadoff hitter. Aaron Rowand took Holland deep with one out in the third inning and Ian Kinsler did the same to Cain in the sixth inning. It was the 14th straight Rangers home run with nobody on base.

Holland went seven innings, allowing just one run on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts while Cain, who hasn't lost in his past nine starts, lasted eight innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out eight.

"They obviously threw the ball well," third baseman Michael Young said. "So did we. But we have to focus on finding a way. They pitched great and you have to give them their due. As an offense, though, we have to find a way to get it done. It just didn't happen tonight."

Some 400 miles to the south, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had their eight-game winning streak come to an end when they lost to the Dodgers. That allowed the Rangers to remain in first place by a half-game for the 46th straight day.

But the offense is becoming an increasing concern and Ryan knows it. He just didn't expect it. Nobody did, but the Rangers are now hitting .224 for the month of June.

"I would never have guessed it," Ryan said. "I would have guessed we would have scored our normal progression of runs.

"Our hitting woes have been going on for a while. If we're going to win ballgames, we have to execute in all three parts of the game. Our defense has improved, our pitching has improved and offensively we have to capitalize on our opportunities."

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