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Lewis, 'pen labor in Rangers' win vs. Tribe

Lewis, 'pen labor in Rangers' win vs. Tribe

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CLEVELAND -- Pressed into service one day earlier than expected, Colby Lewis won his second consecutive start for the Rangers and matched a career high with 10 strikeouts.

He just threw a few too many pitches and not enough innings. A bullpen dealing with some issues had to pick him up earlier than expected in order for the Rangers to hold on to a 6-2 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field on Wednesday night.

Lewis threw 117 pitches and had to come out after just 5 1/3 innings. The Rangers had to follow him with four different relievers, and one of them was closer Neftali Feliz. He was called upon in the eighth inning and had to get the final four outs for his second save since being ushered into the closer's role earlier this week.

In all, Rangers pitchers threw 193 pitches, the second most in a nine-inning American League game this season. They walked eight and hit two batters but won because their pitchers held the Indians to 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position while the Rangers were 6-for-20 in those situations.

"I made a couple of pitches to get out of jams, so I'm thankful for that," Lewis said. "But I threw too many pitches and I'm not happy with that, and I'm not happy with the walks. Fortunately, everything panned out."

Lewis was pressed into service one day early as C.J. Wilson was scratched because of a case of food poisoning. Lewis was supposed to pitch Thursday but, because of the off-day on Monday, he was still pitching on his normal four days' rest since his last start on Friday against the Mariners.

"I knew I was going to face [the Indians] either way," Lewis said. "It was not like having three days of rest and pitching on the fourth day. I felt good. I felt I got better command later in the game."

He just had some trouble early even though the Rangers gave him a 4-0 lead after three innings against Indians starter Justin Masterson. Josh Hamilton drove in a run with a double, and Nelson Cruz hit his sixth home run in eight games.

Lewis needed 37 pitches just to get out of the first inning. Asdrubal Cabrera flied out to start the inning but Grady Sizemore worked a 10-pitch walk. Shin-Soo Choo also walked and Lewis hit Travis Hafner with an 0-2 pitch to load the bases. But he escaped trouble by striking out both Jhonny Peralta and Matt LaPorta.

"Colby threw 37 pitches in the first inning and we were hoping he could get us through six," manager Ron Washington said. "The walk by Sizemore kind of set the tone for everything."

Lewis couldn't get the Rangers through six innings. With one out in the sixth, he walked Peralta and gave up a single to LaPorta. That prompted Washington to call on Dustin Nippert to protect a 4-0 lead.

Nippert is normally the Rangers long man, but they were without Darren O'Day, the setup reliever who is also stricken by food poisoning and was unavailable. O'Day likely would have had this assignment. Nippert got the Rangers through the inning but not before giving up a two-run double to Michael Brantley that made it 4-2.

Darren Oliver pitched a scoreless seventh and Julio Borbon gave the Rangers some breathing room with a two-run single in the top of the eighth. That put the Rangers ahead, 6-2, and gave them an opportunity to get a win without having to use Feliz.

That didn't turn out to be the case. Chris Ray, who had warmed up in the sixth while Nippert was on the mound, retired the first two hitters he faced. But then he walked Lou Manson and Brantley, the bottom two hitters in the Indians order.

"The first two hitters, he looked like he had great stuff," Washington said. "Then he just ran out of gas."

Washington still had Frank Francisco, his closer-in-exile who had pitched a scoreless ninth inning in a tie ballgame on Monday and ended up being the winning pitcher. Washington also had Doug Mathis, a multi-inning middle reliever. But with the top of the Indians order coming up, Washington decided to go with his closer.

"We were trying to put that game away," Washington said.

Feliz did just that. Cabrera flied out to center to end the eighth and Feliz finished off the Indians in the ninth to end it. He ended up throwing 18 pitches. That's right on the border for Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux in deciding if Feliz will be available for Thursday's noon (ET) game against the Indians. The Rangers prefer to use Feliz an inning at a time.

"I'll have to talk to Mike and see," Washington said. "I don't have an answer right now."

The Rangers won but ended up throwing too many pitches by too many pitchers.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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