BOSTON — Just when Andrew Miller seemed to have gotten past his control problems, they returned.
The Red Sox lefthander issued four walks and retired just four batters before leaving Boston’s 10-0 loss to the Texas Rangers on Friday night.
“I put us back on our heels and never really made a correction,” Miller said.
He had averaged 5.3 walks per nine innings during his 79 major league games before this year. That dropped to 4.7 this season heading into Friday’s game. And he had walked a total of just seven batters in his previous 21 innings.
But he walked the Rangers’ first two batters, Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, and both scored in the two-run first.
“He started out in the first couple innings and not commanding and it turned into a couple of runs,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “Fortunately, just a couple.”
He even balked, moving Kinsler and Andrus into scoring position.
“The game sped up and I didn’t handle it well,” said Miller (6-2). “I can’t remember the last time I did something like that.”
The opposing lefty starter, Derek Holland (13-5), didn’t walk a batter and allowed just two singles in seven innings.
Kinsler, David Murphy and Elvis Andrus homered for the Rangers, who have provided Holland with a major league-best 7.52 runs per game.
“That’s something to be thankful for,” Holland said, “but at the same time they may be giving me that, I’ve got to do my part and that’s to make pitches and keep the momentum on our side. It’s amazing, but, at the same time, I’ve got to stay focused.”
Holland did when he held Boston to singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez. Neither made it to second base, as Ellsbury was caught stealing and Gonzalez was stranded when Kevin Youkilis struck out.
Holland won for the seventh time in eight decisions, striking out six. Merkin Valdez and Michael Gonzalez finished up with one hitless inning each. That was an outstanding job against a lineup with strong lefty hitters such as Ellsbury, Gonzalez and David Ortiz.
“Against that team, whether you’re throwing righty or lefty, you have to execute pitches,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “You certainly can’t get into a slugging match with them. You have to pitch, and tonight we pitched.”
They also hit, starting with two runs in the first and four in the second. For the 14th time in Holland’s last 19 starts, the Rangers scored in the opening inning.
“We would like to” start strong, leadoff hitter Kinsler said. “It doesn’t always turn out that way. The game’s not that easy, but we love to get our pitchers the lead early, especially on the road (to) take the crowd out of it and give our pitchers something to work with. And tonight we were able to do that.”
The Rangers’ first homer came on a three-run shot by Kinsler in the second, his 24th of the year and his third in four at-bats. In the fifth, Murphy hit a solo homer, his eighth, and Andrus added a two-run blast, his fourth, after a single by Craig Gentry.
Murphy went 4 for 5 and Andrus scored four runs as the Rangers posted their 12th road shutout, the most in the majors since Atlanta had 12 in 1998. The shutout was their 17th of the season, tying a club record.
Boston fell a half-game out of first place in the AL East behind the New York Yankees, who beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2.
“It was kind of a bad night all around,” Francona said. “They did a lot offensively. We did very little. We just didn’t play a very good game.”
Miller left after retiring just four batters — one on a sacrifice fly and one on a sac bunt. Michael Bowden allowed an RBI single by Adrian Beltre that made it 7-0 in the fourth.
Miller’s usual control problems had subsided in his previous three starts with a total of five walks. But on Friday he walked the first two batters before striking out Josh Hamilton. Michael Young then singled in a run and Beltre followed with a sacrifice fly.
Yorvit Torrealba led off the second with a single and took second base on a single by Murphy. Gentry then sacrificed both and Kinsler homered. Miller’s wildness returned as he loaded the bases on a walk to Andrus, a single by Hamilton and a walk to Young.
Bowden came in and retired Beltre on a fly ball before forcing in a run on a walk to Mike Napoli that made it 6-0.
“Everything went our way tonight,” Washington said.
NOTES: The Red Sox sellout streak reached 700 games since May 15, 2003 with a crowd of 38,083. … Youkilis was activated from the 15-day disabled list after recovering from a low back strain…. Leonys Martin singled in his first major league at-bat in the eighth as a pinch hitter for Hamilton. Martin defected from Cuba after its national team played in Japan at the FISU World Championship in July and August 2010. … Napoli was the only Rangers starter without a hit. … Red Sox LF Carl Crawford was a late scratch from because of illness. He was replaced by Conor Jackson, who p layed his first game since being obtained Wednesday night from the Oakland Athletics. … Ortiz’s hitting streak ended at 15 games. … Colby Lewis (11-9) pitches for Texas against Erik Bedard (4-9 ) in Saturday’s second game of the three-game series.
Yankees 3, Blue Jays 2
NEW YORK — Ivan Nova won his 11th straight decision with some help from a rangy outfield and Robinson Cano hit a tiebreaking single in the fifth inning, lifting the New York Yankees to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
Nova (15-4) was nearly unhittable for seven innings after giving up two runs in the first and Brett Gardner’s two-run homer in the third.
New York returned early Friday from a successful trip to Boston.
Gardner, Andruw Jones and Curtis Granderson all made impressive plays to help the Yankees improve to 12-0 in Nova’s last 12 starts.
Brandon Morrow (9-10) made few mistakes against a Yankees lineup missing Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters. Teixeira was hit by a pitch on his right knee on Thursday and was still sore a day later. Rodriguez was out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with a strained left thumb.
Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his 37th save in 42 chances one night after striking out Adrian Gonzalez with the bases loaded to close out a victory against the Red Sox that gave New York a win in two of three games against their AL East rival.
Gardner lined a 3-1 pitch over the fence in right-center for the Yankees’ first hit Friday, a two-run drive with one out in the third. Russell Martin had walked leading off and Eduardo Nunez lined out to right field before Gardner came up.
Morrow gave up just three more hits but he was hurt by another walk, to Granderson, in the fifth. He gave Granderson the pass after Jeter singled to put runners on first and second. Cano then lined a single to center, scoring Jeter for the 3-2 lead.
Nova held the Blue Jays without a hit after Jose Bautista singled in a run with no outs in the first inning until Eric Thames doubled with one out in the sixth.
The 24-year-old rookie has solidified his spot in a crowded New York rotation that will be cut to five pitchers early next week by improving to 7-0 since being recalled from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre on July 30. He gave up three hits and two walks — one intentional — and struck out four.
Adam Lind followed Bautista’s single in the first with a sacrifice fly for the game’s first out — and a 2-0 Toronto lead. Then with Bautista running, Edwin Encarnacion hit a sharp liner to left caught by a sliding Gardner. Bautista had already rounded second and conceded the double play.
All Jeter had to do was take Garnder’s throw and roll the ball to first baseman Nick Swisher, getting his first start there this season in place of Teixeira.
Bautista robbed Granderson of seeing another pitch in the second when he made a leaping catch at the wall in foul territory down the right-field lne. In the fourth, Bautista was on the other end, sending a long drive to right-center that Jones caught above the wall for the first out.
Gardner made a long running catch in the fifth on a drive by rookie Brett Lawrie. In the sixth, Jones went down to the ground to make a catch of Yunell Escobar’s sinking liner and Granderson caught Lind’s drive running into the wall in center.
Toronto played an eighth straight game without manager John Farrell. He is recovering from pneumonia and won’t be with the Jays this weekend. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu is running the team in Farrell’s place.
NOTES: Blue Jays RHP Dustin McGowan, out since 2008 because of an injured right shoulder that required two operations, pitched 3 2-3 scoreless innings, scattering four hits, for Double-A New Hamsphire in his fifth rehab start. Wakamatsu said McGowan had no problems at all. He could join the Blue Jays this month. … Yankees manager Joe Girardi said LHP CC Sabathia will start Sunday and R HP Freddy Garcia Monday but wouldn’t commit to a starter for Tuesday. … Toronto LHP Ricky Romero (13-9) will face New York RHP Bartolo Colon (8-9) on Saturday. … The Yankees honored former play ers Bernie Williams and Luis Arroyo and current bench coach Tony Pena for being selected into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame.
Orioles 3, Rays 2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Zach Britton rebounded from a tough first inning and helped the Baltimore Orioles overcome AL All-Star David Price.
Britton had his third consecutive solid start, J.J. Hardy drove in two runs and the Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Friday night.
“The only way you’re able to have a shot at that (beating Price) is have a well-pitched game,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “Zach has come back strong and that bodes well for him in the future.”
Britton’s current run has come after he being sidelined just under three weeks last month due to a strained left shoulder.
“The time on the DL, I tried to use it wisely,” Britton said. “Talking to (closer) Kevin Gregg about building a game plan. Having a plan every time you go out there. … What you’re going to do. I feel like that’s really helped me, especially out on the mound.”
Britton (9-9) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings. The left-hander was coming off starts against Minnesota and the New York Yankees where he gave up one run in a combined 12 innings.
Vladimir Guerrero got Baltimore’s second hit off Price (12-12) on a leadoff single in the seventh when the Orioles scored all their runs.
Guerrero went to third when Mark Reynolds and Robert Andino drew one-out walks. After Nolan Reimold hit a sacrifice fly and Ryan Adams re-loaded the bases on an infield single, Hardy put Baltimore up 3-2 with a two-run single.
“He was carving us up all game,” Hardy said of Price. “I think it might have been the only ball (a cutter) he threw over the plate all night.”
Price was touched for three runs and four hits over seven innings. The left-hander, who struck out a team-record 14 in a 12-0 victory over Toronto last Sunday, had 11 strikeouts and three walks.
“One pitch, that’s the game,” Rays catcher Jose Lobaton said. “I feel bad for him. He just threw it a little bit to the middle (of the plate).”
Evan Longoria gave the Rays a 2-0 lead on a two-run double in the first. He has 60 RBIs over his last 64 games.
After Jim Johnson threw two perfect innings, Gregg gave up one hit and two walks in the ninth en route to his 20th save.
Pinch-hitter Sam Fuld opened the Rays’ ninth with a single and went to second on Sean Rodriguez’s one-out grounder. After Casey Kotchman and pinch-hitter Matt Joyce both walked to load the bases, Brandon Guyer hit a game-ending grounder that Hardy made a nice play on at short.
“There’s a method to what he’s trying to do out there,” Showalter said of Gregg. “I understand that. It’s not always real comfortable all the time.”
The Orioles had two on with no outs during the second, but failed to score when Reynolds and Andino both struck out, and Reimold flied out.
After Guerrero drew just his 14th walk of the season leading off the second, Matt Wieters followed with an opposite-field single to right for the Orioles’ first hit. Price then retired his next 14 batters before Nick Markakis reached first on a two-out throwing error by third baseman Longoria in the sixth.
Notes: Fuld pinch-hit for 2B Ben Zobrist, who left because of neck stiffness. … Baltimore RHP Tommy Hunter (flulike symptoms) remained at the team hotel. … Tampa Bay LF Desmond Jennings had been hitless in his previous 12 at-bats before an infield single in the first. … Orioles INF Chris Davis (strained right shoulder) is set to play in a minor league game Sunday and could rejoin t he team next week. … Baltimore LHP Jo-Jo Reyes left the team for the birth of his child. … Orioles LHP Brian Matusz, skipped this time through the rotation, had a bullpen session and might pitc h in next week’s series against the Yankees. … Tampa Bay RHP Wade Davis (8-8), 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA in two home starts against Baltimore this season, will face Orioles RHP Alfredo Simon (4-7) on S aturday night.