ARLINGTON, Texas — The bottom third of the Texas Rangers’ batting order proved to be the difference Saturday night in a 5-1 win over the Boston Red Sox at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
An improbable combination in the lineup due to a late scratch of left fielder David Murphy gave Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin an opportunity to complement each other’s speed.
Gentry pushed four runs across the plate on three RBI and Martin came up with key defensive plays late in the game to hold back the Boston offense. The bottom three of the Texas batting order was 5-for-10, with a pair of hits coming from Gentry and Mitch Moreland.
“Speed kills,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “Gentry had a couple of big at-bats tonight, and his (eighth-inning) home run gave us some insurance runs that we needed. It all comes down to us putting some runs on the board.”
Washington said he wouldn’t be opposed to using the tandem of Gentry and Martin again in the future but that Murphy would continue to be his regular starter in left despite his recent struggles at the plate.
In the key fourth inning, two walks and a single by A.J. Pierzynski brought Gentry to the plate, and he broke a 1-1 tie by beating out the throw for an infield single. With the ball bouncing away from first baseman Mike Napoli on a bad throw by third baseman Will Middlebrooks, two Texas runners came in to score.
“It’s not how you draw it up, but anyway we can push runs across the plate,” Gentry said. “This is a great ballclub we are playing against. To take two away from them is a huge momentum swing.”
Texas had an opportunity to expand its lead with the bases loaded for Ian Kinsler and two outs later in the inning. Kinsler, who had a leadoff first-pitch homer in the first, missed out on a grand slam as his swing sent the ball tailing foul in front of the left-field foul pole. Kinsler grounded out to second two pitches later.
Eight of the nine Rangers hitters finished with hits, the second consecutive day the Rangers had hits from at least eight starters.
Gentry added his second hit of the night in the eighth inning against former Rangers pitcher Koji Uehara. Uehara, in his first outing against his former club, left the fifth pitch over the plate for Gentry’s first homer of the season.
“With two strikes, I was trying to slow it down and get a good pitch to hit,” Gentry said. “I was able to square it up and put it out.”
Alexi Ogando pitched into the seventh to pick up his third win of the season. Ogando (3-2) worked around runners in scoring position and under two outs twice in the contest, leaving six Red Sox stranded on base.
“Our pitchers have gone out there the last two nights and kept us in the ballgame until the offense could get started and put runs on the board,” Washington said. “Ogando did a great job and then our bullpen came in and did a great job. That is what it takes to beat a great team like that.”
The left-hander struck out four in his seventh start of the season. Ogando broke a streak of four games in which he was left with a loss or a no-decision.
“It was definitely a battle,” Ogando said. “I couldn’t hold all of my pitches and some of the hitters took advantage of that, but even when you have runners on bases you have to battle and grind it out.”
Boston tied the game in the second after a double off the wall by David Ortiz and a single by Daniel Nava that scored Ortiz. The run ended a 13-inning drought for the Red Sox, who were shut out Friday and have scored just one run through the first two games of the series.
Red Sox starter John Lackey (1-2) pitched just five innings Saturday, giving up six hits and three runs. Lackey fell to 12-15 against the Rangers.