Texas can't gain ground in Wild Card race

Texas can't move up in Wild Card race

BALTIMORE -- The Rangers hope Saturday isn't a day they look back on with regret.

Poised to pull within one game of the Red Sox in the American League Wild Card race, the Rangers squandered an early three-run lead and lost to the Orioles, 5-4, before 18,028 fans at Camden Yards on Saturday.

"You kick yourself at the end of the game," left fielder Marlon Byrd said. "You could have gained ground. These are the games right here at the end of the season... you start looking at all the games you could have won. We need to figure out how to win every single game from here on out."

The Rangers (76-59) remained two games behind the Red Sox, who lost, 5-1, to the White Sox on Saturday.

"We're getting to the end of the season," Byrd said. "If any team ahead of us loses, we need to win. Right now, it's getting to the point where you see Boston go down, you need a 'W.' We need as many wins as possible right now."

Texas starter Kevin Millwood struggled through five innings, allowing five runs in the loss. He gave up solo home runs to Nolan Reimold and Melvin Mora.

Millwood (10-9) walked four, three of which came in a crucial third inning. Nursing a 4-2 lead, Millwood gave up the homer to Reimold and walked Brian Roberts, Luke Scott and Matt Wieters. By the end of the inning, the Orioles had evened the score at 4.

"I just pitched bad," a blunt Millwood said. "I thought the pitching was bad, the location was bad. I walked three guys in one inning. I just pitched bad."

The veteran found himself struggling with Mora particularly. The Orioles' third baseman drove in three runs on three hits.

"Usually, Millwood is the kind of guy who will get in trouble and he'll make pitches and get out of it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Today he got in trouble and gave up minimal runs, but they kept getting them in back-to-back innings."

Mora hit a single to score Nick Markakis during Millwood's fifth and final inning.

Early in the game, it appeared the Rangers were going to steamroll the Orioles, much as they did in Friday's 5-1 victory.

Texas got to Baltimore starter Brian Matusz early, scoring three runs off the rookie in the first. Byrd hit a run-scoring double and left fielder David Murphy added a two-run home run, his 13th of the season.

Byrd added a sacrifice fly, scoring Elvis Andrus to push Texas' lead to 4-2 in the third.

"We just couldn't stop them after we got the lead," Washington said. "It would have been nice after we got those three runs if we came back and put up a zero."

Matusz, though, was not rattled and went on to pitch four more innings and did not allow another run.

"The home run ball was a fastball up and away, the wrong spot." Matusz said of his pitch to Murphy. "I knew after the first inning that I had good stuff. I could feel it in the bullpen and going out to the mound. Anytime you go out there and give up three runs in the first inning, it's tough to say I'm going to have a good game today. But deep down inside I knew I had to ... just grind my way through and say, 'Hey that's it, that's the only runs they're going to get today.'"

Washington said Matusz was spotting his fastball, using his changeup and late in the game, he started getting his breaking ball over.

Orioles relievers Danys Baez and Jim Johnson worked the final two innings. Johnson recorded his eighth save of the season.

"They pitched well," Washington said. "Johnson came in and shut it down. We got beat today. I can't think of anything out there that we gave them."

The Rangers close out the series with the Orioles on Sunday before heading to Cleveland on Monday for a three-game series with the Indians. Washington said his players must put the loss, which ended a four-game winning streak, behind them. The playoffs are still very much in focus.

"They lost a ballgame and we lost a ballgame," Washington said. "We're still in the same spot. We've just got to come back tomorrow and do what we want to do anyway -- win the series. Of course, everybody would like to be greedy and win every ballgame, but we know that doesn't happen."

Matt Palmer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.