Indians Pitching Cures Rangers Offensive Woes

Wednesday, Sep 9, 2009  |  Updated 8:15 AM CDT
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Indians Pitching Cures Rangers Offensive Woes

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OAKLAND, CA - MAY 07: Ian Kinsler #5 of the Texas Rangers looks on against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on May 7, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

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The Texas Rangers' offense limped into a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians having gone scoreless in 15 straight innings.

The Indians pitching cured that quickly.

Rookie Julio Borbon homered twice in the first game and Marlon Byrd set a franchise record with seven hits in the doubleheader to help Texas complete the two-game sweep over Cleveland on Tuesday night.

Texas won the first game 11-9 and the nightcap 10-5 to pull within two games of Boston for the AL wild card. The Rangers came to Cleveland having dropped two straight to the last-place Baltimore Orioles over the weekend.

"It's pretty good to get back on track and win some ballgames," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Our bats woke up a little bit today."

Texas' Chris Davis went 3 for 4 in the nightcap, including a three-run homer. Byrd raised his average 10 points in the two games to .286 while setting a club record for most hits in a doubleheader. He went 4 for 4 in the first game, including the home run, and 3 for 5 in the nightcap.

"It seems like this team forgets about the day before, comes out and gets it done," Byrd said. "Everyone swung the bat well. Everyone had the right approach up and down the lineup."

Indians starter Aaron Laffey (7-5) lasted just 3 1-3 innings in the nightcap, equaling the shortest start of his career. He was charged with seven runs and 12 hits.

"They knocked the ball around all day," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "We fought back in both games, but kept letting it slip away. We're going to come to play until this season is done. We didn't play particularly well, but we played our tails off."

Brandon McCarthy (7-2) started the second game and didn't allow a hit until the fourth, but tired quickly. He was making his second start after spending three months on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade. McCarthy was charged with five runs in 6 1-3 innings, allowing a solo homer to Kelly Shoppach in the fifth and a two-run blast to Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth.

"I feel good, I feel consistent, I feel I'm where I need to be," McCarthy said. "When you have a team down like that, you can't let them back up. But outside of that, everything else feels good."

In addition to Borbon and Byrd, David Murphy homered in the first game for Texas, while Matt LaPorta and Travis Hafner homered for Cleveland.

The teams combined for 54 hits and nine home runs in the two games.

Borbon now has three homers in 70 major league at-bats after hitting just nine in 1,091 career minor league at-bats.

"He's capable of doing that," Washington said. "I don't know if you'll see him hit 15 or 20 this year, but he certainly has a line drive stroke and sometimes he can catch it and hit it out."

Indians pitcher Chris Perez and Texas' Neftali Feliz entered the day 1-2 among relievers with consecutive scoreless innings streaks. Both of them ended in the first game, although Feliz (1-0) picked up his first major league victory in the process.

Perez had gone 20 2-3 innings, the best in baseball, before Byrd pounded a 2-1 pitch into the bleachers in left in the seventh, breaking a 5-all tie. Texas led the rest of the way.

It was the first run Perez allowed since July 7, a span of 20 appearances.

"He's done a tremendous job for us, but not today," Wedge said. "You're not going to be perfect, that's for sure."

Feliz's streak was next to go thanks to Hafner's solo homer in the seventh, ending his at 20 1-3 innings.

"He's only human," Washington said of Feliz, who had retired 18 consecutive batters. "I don't think I can remember any pitcher that came to the big leagues and had a 0.00 ERA. He's going to give up something."

Jensen Lewis (2-4) pitched 1 1-3 innings to take the loss.

An estimated crowd of less than 1,000 witnessed the start of the first game. Monday's rainout pushed the start time up two hours, impacting the late-arriving crowd. The official attendance for the day was 12,976.

NOTES: Rangers SS Elvis Andrus extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... DH Andruw Jones, activated off the DL earlier in the day, went 1 for 4 in the nightcap. ... Indians RHP Joe Smith, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 29, is battling a sore left knee. He is hoping to return sometime next week. ... CF Michael Brantley is the second Indians player in the last 50 years to hit safely in each of his first eight games. Josh Bard hit in his first nine in 2002. ... C Lou Marson made his major league debut in the first game, going 1 for 4.

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