Wandy adjusts to mound in first home victory

Rangers lefty praises grounds crew for assistance

Wandy adjusts to mound in first home victory

ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Wandy Rodriguez mastered the mound and finally earned his first victory this season in Arlington. He just had to wait out a few tense moments late in the game from Texas' bullpen before Friday's 4-3 win over the Padres was nailed down.

Rodriguez, who had trouble with the mound in his previous home start against the Angels last Saturday, allowed one run on three hits, two walks and five strikeouts. Rodriguez was 0-4 with a 7.42 ERA in six starts at home, but had a throwing session off the mound between his starts rather than doing it in the bullpen.

He also made a few suggestions about the mound to the Rangers' grounds crew, who made some adjustments.

"They did a very good job," Rodriguez said. "My first win at home. I feel very excited and happy. I threw the ball better and had a better angle."

That may have been from quickly adjusting to the mound. Rodriguez opened the game by retiring the side in order in the first, striking out two of the first three hitters.

He also pitched a scoreless second before running into some trouble in the third. Clint Barmes and Melvin Upton Jr. led off the inning with singles and Rodriguez then fell behind 3-0 to Derek Norris.

He was one pitch away from loading the bases, but fought back to get the count full before retiring Norris on a high pop to short. Rodriguez then squashed the rally completely by getting Yonder Alonso to ground into an inning-ending double play.

"Wandy was effective tonight," manager Jeff Banister said. "We saw his velocity come back to where it was earlier in the year. When he's got that, he is a lot sharper and able to move the fastball around."

There were still some anxious moments. The Rangers took a 4-1 lead into the eighth, but Tanner Scheppers allowed two runs and walked Jedd Gyorko with one out to put the tying run on base. He was able to get out of the inning by getting Brett Wallace to fly out to deep center and Yangervis Solarte on a pop to short.

That left the ninth for closer Shawn Tolleson. Pinch-hitter Will Venable reached on an infield single and was bunted to second by Upton. With the tying run at second, Tolleson struck out Norris and walked Alonso.

That brought up Matt Kemp, Tolleson's former teammate with the Dodgers. It also brought pitching coach Mike Maddux to the mound.

Tolleson closes the door

"I wanted to go after him," Tolleson. "I definitely had a plan of attack before Mike came out. Mike had some good suggestions but I went with my gut and he was fine with that."

Tolleson threw five straight fastballs and Kemp went down swinging for a strikeout to end the game.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.