ARLINGTON, Texas — C.J. Wilson stood at his locker after pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings for Texas wearing a T-shirt he designed bearing the image of teammate Mike Napoli with a chef’s hat and holding a spatula.
Wilson’s 13th win and Napoli’s three-run homer were the primary ingredients for the Rangers in a 4-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Monday night in the opener a four-game series that is a potential playoff preview.
Napoli’s 21st homer, in the sixth off Erik Bedard (4-9), extended the Rangers’ 1-0 lead and his hitting streak to a season-best 11.
“That situation right now, we had Bedard on the ropes. … He got a fastball up to Mike, and he didn’t miss it,” manager Ron Washington said. “We certainly needed it because you never know what may happen in a one-run ballgame. It gave us a cushion and it gave us an opportunity to hold on.”
Wilson (13-5) struck out four while limiting the Red Sox to four singles, improving to 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA in his four August starts. The left-hander had finished July by allowing 14 hits and 13 runs (10 earned) in 7 2/3 innings over two starts.
The Rangers were coming off a 7-3 road trip that ended with three losses in four games, the last 10-0 at the Chicago White Sox.
“To come back home and put the red (jerseys) on and prevent scoring was a big deal,” Wilson said. “Getting the win and getting a shutout for the team is pretty awesome.”
The Red Sox had runners at first and third, the only time they had a runner 90 feet from home plate, when Wilson came out of the game. Koji Uehara immediately got Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a groundout.
Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz each pitched a scoreless inning without allowing a hit to wrap up the Rangers’ 15th shutout, which ended on second baseman Ian Kinsler’s diving stop up the middle and a throw off his knees to get Carl Crawford out at first with two runners on base. Boston was held scoreless for the ninth time.
Napoli homered to left-center on a ball that kept drifting and dropped into the first row of seats just beyond the 14-foot-high wall. With his back turned to the plate watching, Bedard could only say “Wow!” Josh Hamilton and Michael Young had reached on consecutive one-out singles.
Wilson couldn’t keep a straight face wearing his unique T-shirt after the game.
“There was a joke earlier in the season that Nappy looked like the chef in the Detroit Tigers clubhouse when he had the long hair so we started calling him Cheffy,” Wilson said. “‘On the menu’ is what we joke about.”
And Napoli delivered on a fastball that stayed up in the zone.
“I tried to throw strikes out there and keep the team in the ballgame,” Bedard said. “It was a good hit by Napoli and that was the deciding factor.”
Bedard is 0-2 in his four starts for the Red Sox since being acquired July 31 in a trade from Seattle. The left-hander struck out four and allowed seven hits over six innings.
Texas (74-55) extended its division lead over the idle Los Angeles Angels to 4½ games while the Red Sox (77-50), who have the second-best record in the AL, dropped a full game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East.
Boston hasn’t won a game against the Rangers this season. The Red Sox were swept in a three-game series at Texas to open the season as part of their 0-6 start.
Texas had a season-high scoreless streak of 17 consecutive innings before Elvis Andrus’ RBI single in the third after a potential inning-ending double play instead became a blown call and hit for Ian Kinsler.
Ian Kinsler’s sinking liner to right in the third appeared to be caught by Josh Reddick.
Baserunner Craig Gentry was stranded between first and second base unsure which way to go until umpire Doug Eddings finally waved safe, ruling that the ball was trapped. Gentry scooted to second while Reddick threw to first thinking he had completed a double play.
“I know he caught it,” manager Terry Fancona said. “But the umpire says he’s sure, and he’s not, I don’t know what to do.”
Replays showed clearly that Reddick caught the ball a few inches off the ground.
Andrus followed with his single to left-center with Kinsler going to third, but he cost the Rangers the chance of another run.
With Hamilton at the plate, Andrus was caught off the base by catcher Saltalamacchia. Hamilton then hit a flyball that would have been deep enough to score Kinsler, but instead was the third out.
Notes: Napoli struck out two pitches after it appeared he had been hit by a pitch in the second. Home plate umpire Paul Nauert ruled foul ball despite Napoli showing him a mark on his hand and Washington sprinting out of the dugout to argue. … Texas native John Lackey (11-9) starts for the Red Sox on Tuesday night. The right-hander, coming off a loss to Tampa Bay that snapped his career-best six-game winning streak, is 6-6 with a 6.78 ERA in 17 career starts at Rangers Ballpark. He allowed nine runs in 3 2/3 innings there the second game this season. … Colby Lewis (11-8), who beat Lackey in April, starts for Texas.
Ellsbury returns Tuesday
Jacoby Ellsbury likely will return to Boston’s lineup on Tuesday and designated hitter David Ortiz could also play during this week’s series at Texas.
Ellsbury was out of the lineup for the third straight game Monday night since being hit in the back with a pitch at Kansas City. Ellsbury indicated he could play in the opener against the Rangers, but Red Sox manager Terry Francona wanted to wait another day with the All-Star center fielder.
“He came in early and hit, which was good. We’re pointing for tomorrow,” Francona said. “He came in today and was sort of, ‘I think I can play.’ But I said let me take this out of your hands and go one more day. He’ll be in good shape tomorrow.”
Ortiz hasn’t played since last Tuesday because of bursitis in his right heel. The slugger took swings inside on Monday.
“He’ll be evaluated again to see if he can get out of the boot,” Francona said. “When the tenderness goes away, when the medical people think he can do some running without going backwards, we’ll see where he is. He’s doing better every day.”
Francona said he wasn’t sure when Ortiz would be back, but it might be during the four-game series against the AL West-leading Rangers.
Tim Wakefield’s sixth shot at getting his 200th career win will come Friday against Oakland at Fenway Park, instead of Thursday night in the finale at Texas as had been scheduled.
“You can’t do it for sentimental reasons, but I’m glad,” Francona said about Wakefield now getting a chance for his 200th win in front of the home fans.
Left-hander Andrew Miller will come out of the bullpen to make his 10th start of the season Thursday, a move that gives Wakefield and the other starters an extra day of rest.
Francona said outfielder J.D. Drew (left shoulder), out since July 20, will play for Class-A Lowell on Friday and Saturday, work out with the Red Sox on Sunday, then get a day off before two games at Triple-A Pawtucket with the aim of being activated Sept. 1.
Reliever Bobby Jenks (left back tightness) threw 24 pitches in a simulated game Monday and is scheduled to throw another one Wednesday.
Third baseman Kevin Youkilis, put on the disabled list Thursday with a lower back strain, did cardio and core work Monday, but Francona said there still isn’t a projected date for his return.
“It’s not the lineup we’ve been sending out the majority of the year,” Francona said. “We’re trying to mix and match and get guys in situations where if they do want to pitch around somebody, it costs them runs.”