Kela's first career save caps bullpen's big night

Freeman and Scheppers also outstanding in Rangers win

Kela's first career save caps bullpen's big night

LOS ANGELES -- The Rangers' streak of 12 consecutive quality starts came to an end on Wednesday night as Wandy Rodriguez could only get through 5 1/3 innings. Rodriguez left the game with a 4-3 lead, but wasn't worried about getting a win.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for #ASGWorthy players

"I left confident the guys could get the job done," Rodriguez said.

He was right. The Rangers bullpen was outstanding and able to hold for a 5-3 victory over the Dodgers on Wednesday night. The work came on a night when closer Shawn Tolleson was unavailable because he had pitched in three straight games.

But left-handed setup reliever Sam Freeman got five outs, Tanner Scheppers pitched a scoreless eighth and Keone Kela worked the ninth for his first career Major League save.

"The bullpen was very good," Rodriguez said after running his winning streak to three.

Rodriguez had a 4-0 lead going into the sixth before running into trouble. Justin Turner singled, Scott Van Slyke hit a two-run home run and Kiké Hernandez doubled to right field.

Rodriguez caught A.J. Ellis' line drive back up the middle for the first out, but Alex Guerrero, pinch-hitting for Clayton Kershaw, singled home Hernandez to make it a one-run game. Manager Jeff Banister then brought in right-hander Jon Edwards but he walked Yasiel Puig.

Rodriguez shows off reflexes

With two on and one out, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly sent Joc Pederson, a left-handed hitter who did not start against Rodriguez, to pinch-hit against Edwards. Banister countered with Freeman.

Freeman, with his fastball coming in at 96 miles per hour, struck out Pederson and retired Adrian Gonzalez on a grounder to first to end the threat.

Freeman fans Pederson

"Skip just told me to do what I do," Freeman said. "So that was it. I felt like that was really me out there. That's what I do when I'm at my best."

Freeman also sent down the side in order in the seventh.

"Obviously a terrific night for Sam," Banister said. "We really needed somebody to step up and get five outs. You saw the fastball from Sam and his demeanor. He was really under control."

After Scheppers worked the eighth against the bottom of the Dodgers' order, Kela came out to work the ninth.

"People put an emphasis on the ninth but you're going to be a closer in every inning, whether it was the fifth or the ninth," Kela said. "Your job is to execute pitches."

Kela on first save

Kela, with a 5-3 lead because of Prince Fielder's ninth-inning home run, retired Puig on a popout and then walked Pederson. But he retired Gonzalez on a fly to left and struck out Howie Kendrick to end the game.

"This is a guy who believes he can pitch in the ninth and wants to pitch in the ninth," Banister said. "It was a nice experience for him to face those hitters and finish it off."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.