Inconsistent play leads to 3-7 trip

ATLANTA -- The Rangers finished their 11-day, 10-game sojourn through Minnesota, New York and Atlanta with a 4-2 loss on a hot and humid Sunday in the deep south that left two players needing IVs and a team searching for consistency.

They finished the trip at 3-7 and will return home with at least a share of first place in the AL West. But the race is a tight one with Seattle right behind the Rangers and the Angels just three games back now.

"We just didn't do quite enough," manager Ron Washington said. "We won the series, so there's a positive there. We had opportunities to score more and didn't."

The blistering sun and humidity left the starting battery mates in the training room needing to re-hydrate. Yorvit Torrealba and Alexi Ogando both needed IVs following the game. Torrealba certainly looked fatigued in the third inning. He committed two errors and didn't get to a ball in the dirt that he normally would block. That wild pitch moved two runners up, and when Torrealba and Michael Young ran into each other, the ball dropped and the Braves added what would later be the winning run.

But during the course of the last week and a half, the Rangers weren't able to consistently do the little things to win. Some examples:

* The Rangers scored a total of 38 runs, an average of 3.8 per game during the trip. And that includes a nine-run outburst in the lone win in Minnesota. As a team, Texas hit just .251 with four homers and 35 RBIs. They struck out 73 times in 366 at-bats to go along with 19 walks.

* Texas did have chances and put baserunners in scoring position, but they weren't able to cash them in. The Rangers were 22-for-100 with runners in scoring position on the trip, including 1-for-12 on Sunday.

* When they did have baserunners, they weren't as successful getting aggressive with them. Elvis Andrus did steal home on a double steal in the Braves series, but Texas was caught four times during the trip and stole seven bases. They've been caught just 20 times all season.

* The pitching staff as a whole had a 5.01 ERA, more than a run higher than the season average (now 3.87). Texas gave up 14 homers in 88 innings as the long ball really hurt. Opponents hit .267 against Rangers pitching in the 10 games.

* It was not a great trip for the starting pitchers. They had a 5.30 ERA and averaged about 5 1/3 innings per outing. They gave up 20 extra-base hits in 54 1/3 innings and averaged 17.6 pitches per inning.

* Washington felt like the bullpen improved as the trip went along and it's worth noting that Yoshinori Tateyama and Neftali Feliz certainly looked better. But Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes each struggled in one game during the Atlanta series. The bullpen gave up seven homers and had a 4.54 ERA.

* Several of the Rangers' top hitters continue to try to find their stride. Nelson Cruz is working on his lead foot, which he says is messing with his timing. He hit just .222 on the trip and was given a day off in New York. Josh Hamilton hit .262 but got his hits in clumps. He was 11-for-42, with seven of the hits coming in two games.

That's not to say some players didn't start to play better on the road. Ian Kinsler, who had struggled all season away from Arlington, is in the middle of a six-game hitting streak and is hitting .276 during that streak with two stolen bases and a home run.

* The dominant Feliz appears to have returned. He got saves Friday and Saturday in Atlanta and struck out four of the six batters he faced. He was confident and effective. He looked like the 2010 version. Tateyama is really tough against right-handed hitters and got some big outs against them in all three games over the weekend.