One rookie pulled one of the oldest tricks in the book against another, and it worked out for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.
Pinch-runner Kike Hernandez scored on a two-out balk by Texas Rangers reliever Keone Kela in the ninth inning, giving the NL West leaders a 1-0 victory.
"I just tried to do something to distract the pitcher," Hernandez said. "I faked him, and he fell for it."
Kela (4-4), who preserved the Rangers' 5-3 win Wednesday night with his first major league save, walked Yasmani Grandal and Andre Ethier to open the ninth. First baseman Mitch Moreland then turned Alberto Callaspo's grounder into a 3-6-3 double play, but Kela was rattled by Hernandez's bluff toward the plate with a 1-2 count on Jimmy Rollins, and was called for the balk simultaneously by plate umpire Marvin Hudson and first base ump Jim Joyce.
"I didn't need for them to tell me. We could see it," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "You could see (Hernandez's) little fake-break down the line, and you saw the little shoulder turn by Keone. It was a balk. It was very slight, but it was there. We got the double-play ball and were in good shape with two strikes on Rollins, but we just came up a little short tonight."
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen (2-0) got the victory with a perfect ninth inning.
Los Angeles starter Zack Greinke scattered four hits over seven innings, struck out eight and walked none while lowering his ERA to 1.81. The hard-luck right-hander is 0-2 with a 1.99 ERA in his last eight starts, and the Dodgers have fewer than three runs in six of them — including last Saturday's 2-1 loss at San Diego, when Greinke went the distance for the first time this season.
"There's no reason for him to be frustrated," said Grandal, the Dodgers' catcher. "He's a veteran guy and he's been doing his job. I mean, he can only do so much to keep us in the game. And that's what we're looking for from our starters — keep us in the game, and we'll find a way to win."
Anthony Ranaudo allowed five hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out four in his second spot start of the season after getting recalled by Texas earlier in the day from Triple-A Round Rock to give everyone in the rotation an extra day's rest. On April 15, he gave up six runs and six hits in just 1 1/3 innings of a 10-2 home loss against the Angels while filling in for an injured Derek Holland.
"It was like night and day. That was pretty obvious," Ranaudo said. "It was unfortunate that we didn't come out with a win, but I felt pretty good about my performance tonight and we played really hard. They just happened to pull it out at the end."
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly challenged a safe call by third base umpire Chris Segal in the seventh, after Elvis Andrus advanced from first base on a two-out single to left field by Robinson Chirinos. Andrus appeared to have beaten the throw from Ethier with a headfirst slide, but TV replays showed that he overslid the bag as Callaspo kept the glove on him.
The Dodgers put runners at the corners in the bottom half with a leadoff single by Andre Ethier and a hit-and-run single by Rollins with one out. Justin Turner pinch-hit for Greinke and flew out to shallow center field on Ranaudo's 100th and final pitch before lefty Ross Detwiler came in and retired rookie Joc Pederson on a flyout.
Greinke retired his first nine batters on 34 pitches without allowing a ball hit to an outfielder. Shin-Soo Choo and Rougned Odor opened the Rangers' fourth with singles, but the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner struck out Joey Gallo, retired Moreland on a fielder's choice grounder and got Andrus to fly out.
"Zack was on his game today, man," Grandal said. "He was throwing harder than he usually does, so he must have been feeling good. ... Throughout the first three innings, I thought we might have a pretty good shot of throwing a no-hitter."
COMINGS AND GOINGS
Rangers: Placed 1B Kyle Blanks was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of inflammation in both Achilles tendons.
Dodgers: Recalled LHP Daniel Coulombe Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned OF Chris Heisey.
Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis (6-3) opposes Chris Sale in the opener of a three-game series at Chicago, having recorded victories in each of his last five starts against the White Sox — and shutouts in each of his last two at U.S. Cellular Field.
Dodgers: RHP Mike Bolsinger (4-1) gets the assignment Friday night for the opener of a three-game set against the Giants at Chavez Ravine. His mound opponent is rookie Chris Heston, who followed up his June 9 no-hitter against the Mets with a 4-0 home loss to the Diamondbacks.