ARLINGTON -- The All-Star break couldn't have come at a better time for the Rangers. They capped a frustrating weekend against the Orioles with a 4-1 loss at the Ballpark in Arlington in what was Baltimore's first four-game sweep over the Rangers since 2004. "Good time for a break. We need it," manager Ron Washington said. "Sometimes it's not the best team that wins it's the team that plays the best."
On Thursday and Friday, it was the Rangers' bullpen that couldn't close out victories in the late innings. On Saturday and Sunday, it was the Orioles' pitchers that kept the Rangers off balance. On Saturday, it was the recently-recalled Chris Tillman that shut down the Rangers. Tillman, who had just been called up from Triple-A Norfolk, didn't give up a hit until one out in the seventh inning and picked up his first win of the season, despite entering with an ERA over eight. Sunday, it was Jake Arrieta that silenced Texas' bats. Arrieta, who played college baseball at TCU in Fort Worth, gave up only one run on six hits with three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. "We got them out there although we kept trying to get them in with two outs," Washington said. "We just needed a hit. We needed a couple hits. We just didn't get it." The Rangers had runners on first and second four different times Sunday but couldn't get a run in. The Rangers' only run came in the first on a solo homer by Ian Kinsler. "We definitely had the opportunities to score some runs," said Chris Davis, who collected a season-high three hits. "But any time we were in position to take the momentum, they made pitches and they made plays. That's something you can't do anything about. We hit some balls on the screws right at guys and just didn't have anything to show for it." Over the four-game set with the Orioles, the Rangers offense hit a paltry .114 (4-for-35) with runners in scoring position and left a whopping 37 men on base. Over the final 20 innings of the series, the Rangers' offense managed two runs. "Things don't always work out. Obviously, we weren't swinging the bats that great," Kinsler said. "We were hitting a lot of line drives at people. The game's tough for us right now." It proved a frustrating start for pitcher C.J. Wilson as well, who surrendered three runs on three hits through just 4 2/3 innings. They came immediately after the Rangers' only run of the game on run-scoring doubles by Julio Lugo and Corey Patterson. "I'm a better pitcher than the result I put up today," Wilson said. "I'm frustrated about that discrepancy." It was control that kept Wilson from a lengthier start, as he walked five Orioles while throwing only 60 of his 111 pitches for strikes. "That second inning, a lot of pitches prevented me from going deep into the game," Wilson said. "I felt like I did a good job preventing guys from getting hits but I couldn't keep guys off base." It's been a tumultuous start to the month of July for the Rangers, who enter the break with a 3-8 record so far this month, with all but one of those games coming at home. "We hit a little rough spot there," Kinsler said. "We couldn't really get anything going offensively. The first two nights we scored a couple runs and they got to our bullpen. It was a rough series." But thankfully for the Rangers, their biggest competition within the division has seen equal struggles so far this month. The Angels, who trail by 4 1/2 games in the American League West, are also 3-8 this month entering the All-Star break and have lost six out of their past seven. "We're in first place. There's no need for us to be sad," Washington said. "We've just got to come out of the break and hold on to it. And the only way we can do that is to go out there and play baseball the way we played to get there."
Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.