Martinez can't save Rangers' makeshift lineup in loss

Rookie righty allows six earned runs; Andrus' error proves costly

Martinez can't save Rangers' makeshift lineup in loss

BALTIMORE -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said it was an easy ground ball.

"I just took my eyes off the ball," Andrus said. "It hit off the end of my glove. There are no excuses. I have to make that play and finish that inning."

The Rangers, in their current state, can't afford such glaring mistakes like that. They had rookie pitcher Nick Martinez on the mound. They had a makeshift lineup that featured Robinson Chirinos hitting in the fifth spot for the first time this season, Chris Gimenez making his first start of the season at first base and Adam Rosales being used at designated hitter for the third time in his career.

The Rangers need all the breaks they can get. Instead Andrus' error led to four runs in the fourth inning and allowed the Orioles to break open the game on their way to an 8-3 victory on Tuesday night at Camden Yards.

The Orioles hit three home runs off Martinez, but just as crucial was they turned three double plays behind their pitchers and Andrus couldn't turn the one that would have allowed the Rangers to escape fourth-inning trouble. Instead a two-run double by Nick Markakis turned out to be as big as the home runs.

"I thought Martinez hung in there and fought well," manager Ron Washington said. "The play we didn't make cost us four runs and turned out to be the difference. Mistakes are part of the game. Nobody feels more sorry about it than Elvis. You've got to keep fighting. He has been playing good defense."

Martinez ended up allowing eight runs in five innings and the Rangers have lost 12 of their last 15 games. Their starting pitchers are 3-10 with a 5.86 ERA in that stretch. Martinez has allowed 12 runs, 10 earned, over 7 1/3 innings in his last two starts. Prior to that he had pitched well in two straight starts, allowing two runs in six innings to the Mariners and two in seven innings to the Angels.

"I felt good tonight," Martinez said. "I thought I pitched better than it showed. The only pitch I wish I had back was the one to Markakis. I got behind a good hitter and he made me pay."

Orioles left fielder Steve Pearce, who was released by the club in April and is now their hottest hitter, has three home runs in two days and once again got everything started in the bottom of the first. Batting with one out, Pearce fell behind 0-2 in the count, fouled off four pitches on the way to 2-and-2, then hit a high fly ball down the left-field line.

Shin-Soo Choo seemed to get under it at the wall and in front of the foul pole. But he had to jump to make the catch, the ball appeared to tick off his glove and landed in the front row for a home run. The play was reviewed and the call was confirmed.

"As soon as it came off the bat, I thought it was a routine fly ball," Choo said. "The ball really carries in this park. I thought it hit off my glove."

Martinez retired Adam Jones and then Nelson Cruz hit a ball that needed no review. Cruz crushed a 1-1 changeup on a line over the left-center-field wall for a home run that made it 2-0.

The Rangers were able to tie it up with the heart of the makeshift lineup in the top of the second against Orioles starter T.J. McFarland. Chirinos singled, Gimenez doubled and Rosales brought them home with a two-run double. But Martinez couldn't keep it tied.

Caleb Joseph came up with one on and two out in the bottom of the second, and lifted a fly ball to left that disappeared into the front row of the bleachers for a two-run home run. That made it 4-2 and then Andrus' error helped the Orioles break it open in the bottom of the fourth.

The Orioles loaded the bases with one out on singles by J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop and a walk to Ryan Flaherty. Joseph followed with a sure double-play grounder right at Andrus, who fumbled the ball for an error. Instead of the Rangers being out of the inning, a run scored and the bases remained loaded.

"I took my eye off the ball before I had it," Andrus said. "The ball took a funny hop and I wasn't able to make the play. I've got to keep my head up, play hard and hope it never happens again."

A double by Markakis on a 3-1 fastball scored two runs and Pearce brought in another with a sacrifice fly, giving the Orioles an 8-2 lead.

"As a pitcher you've got to get out of jams," Martinez said. "I fell behind a hitter who has been around a lot longer than I have. Things happen, you have to control what you can control. I've done that quite a few times myself as an infielder. Elvis has made spectacular plays all year. He'll have my back the next time."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for 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.