Rangers' starting woes show up again

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers wanted Chicago Cubs right-hander Matt Garza to start Saturday night's game against Baltimore.

Their desire to have the trade done now instead of later showed up in a 7-4 loss to the Orioles at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Rangers are a man down -- or maybe two -- when it comes to starting pitching. They know it, and general manager Jon Daniels is trying to do something about it.

That weakness was glaring against a potent Baltimore lineup, which rocked fill-in starter Ross Wolf for seven runs. The Orioles had built a 7-0 lead with no outs in the third inning when Wolf was pulled from the game by manager Ron Washington.

Good pitching can slow down a great lineup. Texas didn't get that on Friday night, and that's no fault of Wolf, who has saved the Rangers on several occasions out of the bullpen this season.

This is about starting pitching, the lifeline of any contending team.

The Rangers have one win from a starter other than Derek Holland and Martin Perez since Yu Darvish beat Cincinnati on June 30. They are 6-9 during that span.

Going back further, they are 20-23 since the start of June. The Rangers have six wins from Holland and Perez, and four from Darvish, Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch. Texas has a 5.14 ERA in that time.

"Obviously it hasn't been good," manager Ron Washington said of his team's starting pitching. "There have been some growing pains in that six weeks. We just have to grind through it."

The Rangers gave the ball to Wolf on Saturday night thinking he could grind his way through a Baltimore offense that is third in the American League in runs and first in homers. Wolf retired five of the 16 batters he faced.

He gave up runs in all three innings he pitched. He faced four batters in the top of the third, already down 3-0, and all four of them scored. Orioles cleanup hitter Adam Jones started the third inning with a 421-foot home run to center field.

"I got away from what I do best, compete," Wolf said. "I started nibbling. That's a team you can't make a mistake against."

Texas is a team that can't fall behind. The Rangers found that out during a six-game losing streak in June. They had scored more than two runs once in their past six games coming into Saturday, their only win during that stretch.

The Texas offense had an early chance to get to Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez and didn't. The Rangers had three hits in the second inning and didn't score.

They did rally against the Orioles' bullpen as David Murphy's two-run single off former teammate Tommy Hunter in the bottom of the eighth cut the Baltimore lead to 7-4.

The Rangers were able to get the tying run to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on singles by Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre, but Orioles closer Jim Johnson was able to get catcher A.J. Pierzynski to ground out to second to end the game.

It left the Rangers hoping that the late-inning rally will ignite the offense on Sunday. With a lethargic beginning after the All-Star break, they need it.

"We're still just getting some of the rust off from the All-Star break," Murphy said. "It was good to see the offense chip away late in the game."