BOSTON -- The Rangers were hoping to get five innings out of starter Phil Klein on Wednesday night. That's the most they have been getting from their other starters lately.
Klein ever so slightly exceeded those expectations in his first Major League start against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The converted reliever went 5 1/3 innings, allowing just one run and picking up the win as the Rangers held for a 2-1 victory.
"I can't say enough about Phil Klein," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "A gutsy performance."
Klein, with the help of some excellent defense, allowed just five hits, walked one batter and struck out four. He threw 81 pitches before leaving with two on and one out in the sixth. It may not be much, but it's the first time in six games a Rangers starter lasted more than five innings.
"It was fun. ... A great atmosphere," Klein said. "I had a lot of fun. I just tried to go out there and go as deep in the game as I could and keep my team in the game."
His defense stepped up immediately in the first when Leonys Martin raced deep into the left-center gap to run down Mookie Betts' long drive leading off the inning. In the second inning, left fielder Delino DeShields went to the wall and jumped to take away a hit from Hanley Ramirez. Both balls had a chance to go for extra bases.
The Red Sox finally put runners in scoring position in the fourth. Klein struck out David Ortiz in a nine-pitch at-bat to start the inning and retired Ramirez on a grounder to third. But Mike Napoli kept the inning alive with a single to center.
Daniel Nava followed with a high drive over right fielder Shin-Soo Choo's head that bounced on the warning track and into the seats for a double. Napoli had to hold at third and both runners were stranded when Brock Holt popped out to third.
The Red Sox, trailing 2-0, finally broke through in the fifth when Xander Bogaerts led off by hitting the first pitch over the left-field wall for a home run. But that was the best the Red Sox could do against a guy who had made 144 relief appearances but just four starts in five professional seasons.
"That was huge," reliever Tanner Scheppers said. "That was just what we needed. He did a great job."
It's just one start, but Klein should get another against the Indians on Monday.