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Without Scheppers, Rangers run into trouble

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Nick Tepesch didn't get out of the fifth inning.

Kyle McClellan couldn't get through the bottom of Cincinnati's batting order in the 11th.

And standout reliever Tanner Scheppers wasn't available.

It was one of those nights for Rangers pitchers, the end result a 6-4 loss to the Reds in 11 innings Saturday night.

Where to start? How about the top of the 11th inning.

With Tepesch lasting only four innings, the Rangers' bullpen was called on early by manager Ron Washington. Ross Wolf gave his team three shutout innings (he did allow an inherited runner to score). Neal Cotts and closer Joe Nathan combined to get the Rangers through the eighth, ninth and 10th innings with the score still tied at 4-all.

Next up, Rangers setup man Scheppers in the 11th inning, right?

Wrong. Scheppers had pitched five times in seven days going back to his last appearance Wednesday night in New York against the Yankees. The Rangers need to be cautious and rest their primary relievers when necessary. This was one of those times.

"I asked for it," Scheppers said after the game when asked about the third straight day off. "When something like this happens, it's unfortunate."

It's part of the process of handling your bullpen. And some days, you have to count on other guys, whether it be Wolf or McClellan. Scheppers could have come in and pitched a scoreless 11th, and McClellan might still have been needed. Bullpen depth matters.

"We check with these guys every day," Washington said. "This was one of those days we decided to stay away from him."

McClellan, an important piece in the St. Louis bullpen for the previous several seasons, had the Rangers down 6-4 after two batters in the top of the 11th. He got up on Reds No. 7 hitter Todd Frazier with two quick strikes. McClellan then went to his out pitch, his curveball, and almost hit Frazier with an 0-2 pitch. After a foul off, McClellan went back to the curveball, only it didn't break and it hit Frazier in the shoulder.

That brought up Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, who had struck out his first three at-bats and grounded out in the eighth before facing McClellan.

On a rare night when the ball wasn't carrying at Rangers Ballpark -- both A.J. Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland lost potential game-winning home runs to the lack of a jet stream in the eighth and ninth innings -- Mesoraco got a sinker from McClellan that he hammered into the left-field seats.

"I have to gets outs," said McClellan, who was fresh, not having pitched since June 19. "There's no excuse. I did everything to stay sharp. I let the team down. The guys battled all night."

It was just one of those pitching nights. Tepesch, winless in his past seven starts, was handed a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning after the Rangers scored three runs on three Cincinnati errors in the bottom of the third.

Tepesch produced a shutdown top of the fourth. He reached the top of the Reds' order in the fifth, the third time to face the Cincinnati lineup, and that has meant trouble for Tepesch in the first 15 starts of his big league career.

He allowed three consecutive hits, raising his batting average against to .446 for the season the third time through a batting order and beyond.

It's a hurdle the Rangers' rookie right-hander will have to find a way to get over.

"I worked pretty hard," Tepesch said. "I threw a lot of pitches. They saw a lot of pitches."