Lee Loses First Game as Ranger

By STEPHEN HAWKINS
|  Sunday, Jul 11, 2010  |  Updated 3:57 PM CDT
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Lee Loses First Game as Ranger

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Texas pitcher Cliff Lee

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Cliff Lee gave the Texas Rangers the kind of complete effort they were hoping for, even though their newly acquired ace left-hander fell behind quickly and lost his debut.

Lee gave up a run when Baltimore had two hits on his first two pitches while Chris Tillman took a no-hitter into the seventh and the Orioles hit home runs in three consecutive innings for a 6-1 victory over the AL West-leading Rangers on Saturday night.

"It was an electric atmosphere. They got a lead early and never lost it. That kind of kills that a little bit," Lee said. "They came out swinging. You have to tip your hat to them for their approach."

Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young winner the Rangers got from Seattle in a six-player deal Friday, still threw his AL-best sixth complete game.

"It was just one of those weird games, every swing they took turned into a run somehow," said Ian Kinsler, the Rangers' All-Star second baseman.

"Cliff showed exactly what he's capable of doing," Michael Young said. "He had to be tired from all the travel and all that's been going on for the last couple of days, but he showed exactly what he's capable of giving us. ... We're all excited about what we have."

Kinsler had a one-out single in the seventh to break up the no-hit bid by Tillman (1-3), who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to start in place of injured former Rangers starter Kevin Millwood (strained right forearm).

The acquisition of Lee despite the Rangers' bankruptcy proceedings and uncertain ownership sent a clear message that they want to make a serious run at their first playoff appearance since 1999. The All-Star pitcher was one of the most coveted players on the market, and Texas beat the New York Yankees and numerous other teams in getting him.

A crowd of 41,093 -- including a Rangers' record of 14,300 tickets sold on game day -- came to watch Lee (8-4), who had his fourth complete game in his last five starts. He threw 95 pitches while allowing nine hits with two strikeouts and no walks after arriving from Seattle around 1 a.m. Saturday.

"It's been a little hectic. ... I don't think that was the reason why I didn't do as well," Lee said. "It is what it is. The first one is out of the way and hopefully I can do better from here on out."

Lee's first pitch for Texas was lined toward the right-field corner by Corey Patterson for a double. Miguel Tejada had an RBI single on the next pitch.

After that, Lee needed only 23 pitches to get nine outs. But Nick Markakis led off the fourth by pulling a pitch down the right-field line for the first of Baltimore's homers. Cesar Izturis, the No. 9 hitter, had a solo shot for his first of the season in the fifth, and Adam Jones hit a two-run drive an inning later to make it 5-0.

Lee was 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA his last four starts for last-place Seattle, including three complete games and an eight-inning performance in the other.

Baltimore (28-59), which has the majors' worst record, has won the first three games of the final series before the All-Star break. It is the Orioles' first road series victory this season.

"To come in here and win a series against this team is outstanding," interim manager Juan Samuel said. "I told the guys we might as well go for it. Our hitters attacked the ball early. Against a pitcher like Cliff Lee, you have to attack early."

Meanwhile, Tillman (1-3) allowed two singles and an unearned run in his career-high 7 1-3 innings. It was the 17th career start for the 21-year-old right-hander, who was had an 8.40 ERA in other four starts for Baltimore earlier this season.

"He threw the ball well, it doesn't really happen to us very often where we get shut down like that," Young said.

Texas didn't have a base runner until Elvis Andrus drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, when he then avoided being picked off only because of an interference call against first baseman Jake Fox in the rundown. Andrus dived back short of first base, then started crawling toward the bag before getting up and running the other way.

The first Texas hit came on Kinsler's sharp single through the left side of the infield.

David Murphy led off the seventh with a sinking single to center field that ricocheted off and past Jones for a two-base error. Murphy scored on a wild pitch before Tillman was relieved by Will Ohman with one out.

Game Notes:

Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton finished 0 for 4, ending his 29-game home hitting streak. That fell one short of the franchise record. Al Oliver hit in 30 consecutive home games at Arlington Stadium, where Texas played before moving into Rangers Ballpark in 1994.

The fireworks show scheduled Friday night that was canceled by order of the city after that rain-delayed game didn't end until 1:25 a.m. local time, was held Saturday night.
 

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