Young bullpen keeps coming through

The Rangers had their issues in the eighth and ninth innings of Monday's 5-4 victory over the Tampa Rays with veterans Derek Lowe and Joe Nathan wiggling out of trouble.

Before that, 22-year-old Joe Ortiz faced five batters and got five outs. On Sunday, it was 26-year-old Tanner Scheppers who gave the Rangers two strong innings.

It was Ortiz's turn Monday. He was called on with two runners on and one out with the Rangers holding a 3-1 lead.

It was the biggest moment of Ortiz's one-week career. He showed no fear, getting two ground ball outs. Ortiz came back out in the seventh inning and induced two more ground balls, plus he struck out Jose Molina.

"He did great," Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "Obviously coming in with that situation, being his first year, he's not scared. That's the biggest thing with him. He's definitely not afraid. He wants the ball and he wants it in those situations. Hopefully it's another weapon out of the bullpen."

It wasn't all perfect for the bullpen Monday. Michael Kirkman had his issues, loading the bases on two hits and a walk. Lowe came in and allowed two inherited runners to score as the Rangers saw their lead cut to 5-3. Nathan, who pitched for his 300th save, allowed a run in the ninth.

Still, overall the bullpen is off to a good start, entering Monday with a 2.35 ERA. For the second straight game, it was called up in the sixth inning and closed out a victory -- this time the difficult way.

"My bullpen is in good shape," Washington said. "Our bullpen had a rough night. Up until that point, our bullpen has been outstanding."