Rangers bullpen loses grip on Cruz's Orioles

Former Texas slugger homers in Baltimore's six-run eighth

Rangers bullpen loses grip on Cruz's Orioles

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had a key reliever pitch a scoreless eighth inning on Tuesday night. Tanner Scheppers was the pitcher, and he did so on his rehab assignment for Double-A Frisco up in Collin County.

The Rangers could have used that in Arlington. Maybe that's why manager Ron Washington made it clear before the game that the Rangers will find a spot in their bullpen for Scheppers when he is ready.

The Rangers still had three quite reliable relievers on call for the eighth inning in Arlington, but they couldn't get it done. Instead, the trio of Alexi Ogando, Neal Cotts and Shawn Tolleson combined to give up six runs and the Orioles ran away with an 8-3 victory.

Starter Joe Saunders allowed two runs in six-plus innings and the game was still tied in the eighth when the Orioles broke it open. Nelson Cruz finished it off with a three-run home run.

"It was kind of ugly at the end," Cotts said. "I thought Joe threw the ball really well all night, we had the big home run [by Robinson Chirinos in the seventh] to get us back tied, and then it went downhill from there. Obviously it's frustrating right now, not too happy about it. We have to come tomorrow and get ready. We have to, that's the way it goes down there."

The Rangers, coming off a 7-4 road trip, have now lost 11 of their last 15 games at home.

"It's just one game," Washington said. "I thought we were in the game all night, we just didn't shut it down in the eighth inning."

Saunders was making his second start since coming off the disabled list and allowed 10 hits and a walk with just two strikeouts. But the Orioles were 1-for-5 off him with runners in scoring position and 2-for-9 on the night after Jason Frasor escaped a bases-loaded seventh. They reversed that trend with four straight hits in those situations in the eighth inning.

"I felt good, but it was a battle," Saunders said. "They have a pretty good lineup over there, so I just tried to keep the ball down and let my defense make the plays. We battled pretty good, but just came up short."

Ogando started the eighth, having allowed just one run over his last 8 2/3 innings and eight appearances. Ogando retired J.J. Hardy on a popup, but Delmon Young reached on an infield single and then Ogando hit Jonathan Schoop with a pitch.

That brought up Caleb Joseph, the Orioles' rookie catcher who entered the game 2-for-29 with one RBI since being called up to the big leagues. He was also without an extra-base hit, but that changed when he doubled to right-center to put the Orioles ahead.

"I wasn't consistent at all," Ogando said. "I couldn't find the strike zone. My pitches were going everywhere."

Cotts, who had not allowed a run in his last five outings, took over but gave up run-scoring singles to Nick Markakis and Manny Machado to make it 5-2. Washington then brought in Tolleson, who had thrown 11 1/3 scoreless innings over his last eight outings.

Tolleson's only issue has been giving up the long ball, and that's what happened on his first pitch. Cruz hit it deep into the left-field seats for a three-run home run. Tolleson has allowed seven home runs this season, the most by an American League reliever.

"I tried to throw a cutter away and it just backed up on me," Tolleson said. "I gave him a pretty good pitch to hit."

Cruz, facing his former team, was 0-for-3 with a walk prior to that at-bat but now has nine home runs in his last 14 games and leads the Majors with 21 on the season.

"He is swinging the bat well," Washington said. "We have seen him do it before. We got him out all night but when we needed to do it, we didn't get it done."

Adam Jones did more damage with four hits, including a home run in the fourth and a single in the sixth that led to the Orioles' second run. The Rangers had home runs from Adrian Beltre in the fourth and Chirinos in the seventh. Leonys Martin had a triple in the ninth and scored on Chirinos' sacrifice fly.

But the Rangers are hitting .204 with 43 runs scored in their last 15 home games.

"We were in the game, we just couldn't shut the eighth inning down," Washington said. "We had the people we wanted in there, we just didn't get it done."

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