Joe Nathan bounces back with 20th save

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Trotting out of the bullpen with a 5-3 lead over the Boston Red Sox in the top of the ninth, Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan was not about to make the same mistake twice.

After surrendering the go-ahead run and taking the loss Tuesday night with an unusual amount of costly walks, Nathan had a shutdown inning and earned his 18th consecutive save and 20th of the season to preserve the Rangers' series win.

“I try to just live in the present," Nathan said. "Last night was done. You try to build off it and learn from it."

Nathan is one of five active MLB pitchers with seven career 20-save seasons, and his save streak is the fourth-longest single-season streak in club history.

On Tuesday, Nathan issued two walks -- bringing his season total to seven -- and an RBI single that would prove fatal for the Rangers. But Wednesday, he wouldn't allow the middle of the Red Sox lineup any breathing room. Michael Young said no one doubted Nathan for a moment.

"It's always a good thing to get our closer back out there," Young said. "I know he loves to go out there and do his job well. Joe's been great for us all season long, and we have a ton of confidence in him."

Nathan certainly did his job well, setting down all three hitters he faced. He said the biggest difference was his fastball command.

"It wasn’t a big adjustment," he said. "Last night I wasn’t missing much. They were just real patient. I’ve seen hitters swing at a lot of the pitches I threw yesterday. They’ve been seeing the ball pretty well and playing good baseball. So I just tried to come in tonight and really command some pitches, maybe give them a different look.”

Nathan fittingly struck out the final batter of the game swinging on a full count. But he also got some help from his defense, particularly a nice play from Ian Kinsler for the first out. Kinsler sprinted into the gap between second and first base to make a nice grab and fire the ball to Young at first for the putout. Nathan said that Kinsler had been due fora play like that on defense.

"We’ve been joking around because there’ve been some balls in that hole that he hasn’t gotten to and he’s like, 'trust m,e I’ll get to some,' " Nathan said. "We were coming inside with the pitch and he was able to tie him up in there. Being the hitter (Adrian Gonzalez) is, he almost found the hole, but it was a nice play.”

With another solid performance behind him, Nathan said he couldn't be more pleased to have a day off Thursday before the Chicago White Sox come to Arlington.

“You have no idea how much I was looking forward to 10 o'clock tonight," He said. "Great chance to put ourselves in the charger and kind of sit and marinate and enjoy the family. I'm looking forward to an umbrella above my head and kicking my feet up for a few hours.”

After slugging out a nice series win and facing a gauntlet of divisional foes since the All-Star break, Nathan and the Rangers certainly could use a rest. With the White Sox and Los Angeles Angels coming to town, the Texas has a tough stretch ahead.