Monday, August 25, 2014
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Baker, Rangers' bullpen cool off Royals

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[August 25, 2014]  ARLINGTON, Texas -- The committee system led the Texas Rangers to a win Sunday.

Spot starter Scott Baker and three relievers shut down red-hot Kansas City in the Rangers' 3-1 victory over the Royals.

Baker, a right-handed long reliever who hadn't pitched in 11 days, earned his first victory as a starter in more than three years. Baker (2-3) gave up a home run to Kansas City first baseman Billy Butler in the fourth but otherwise held the Royals in check, allowing five hits and a walk over five innings.

Right-hander Shawn Tolleson threw two scoreless innings, and left-hander Neal Cotts pitched a scoreless eighth. Right-hander Neftali Feliz earned his sixth save in seven attempts for Texas, which won for the third time in 10 games.

The four pitchers combined to retire 15 of the Royals' last 16 hitters.

"Whether I'm a starter or reliever, it's a matter of executing pitches," said Baker, a 32-year-old who missed all of 2012 and most of 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery. "For me, it's never been an issue of having that many days off.

"It's making good two-strike pitches. Early on, I wasn't doing that. I got away with a few pitches, but as the game went on, I made adjustments and started making better pitches."

The Royals, who lead the Detroit Tigers by two games in the American League Central, lost for only the fifth time in their past 31 games. Kansas City (72-57) returns home after a 6-3 road trip.

Left fielder Daniel Robertson (1-for-3 with two walks) led off the Rangers' half of the first with a double, and he scored on designated hitter Adrian Beltre's double down the left field line.

Texas third baseman Adam Rosales (2-for-4 with two doubles) drove in a run in the second, and catcher Robinson Chirinos (2-for-3 with a walk) knocked in a run in the third.

The Rangers left 11 men on-base and went 4-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

Second baseman Omar Infante had two of Kansas City's six hits.

Tolleson, who struck out two, owns a 1.28 ERA in his past 13 games. Earlier this month, the right-hander became only the third pitcher in club history to post consecutive outings of at least two perfect innings.

"Tolleson was huge when he came in and gave us the two innings there and gave us a chance to get to Cotts," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We certainly needed those two innings in the sixth and seventh."

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Kansas City left-hander Jason Vargas (10-6) gave up three runs (two earned) on 11 hits and four walks over six innings.

"I thought he did a phenomenal job of keeping us in the game, getting us through six innings," said Kansas City manager Ned Yost, whose team took two of three games in the weekend set. "He made really good pitches when he needed to."

Baker worked around baserunners in each of the first three innings before Butler led off the top of the fourth with a home run.

The Texas bullpen retired 12 of the 13 hitters it faced, striking out five.

"Baker, especially, did a good job of keeping us off-balance," Yost said. "We just couldn't get anything going all day, outside of Billy's home run.

"We didn't have many more opportunities than that."

NOTES: The Rangers traded C Geovany Soto on Sunday to the Oakland Athletics for cash considerations. Texas will call up C Tomas Telis on Monday. ... Kansas City 1B Eric Hosmer might resume baseball activities as early as Monday. He will first undergo an X-ray to see how the stress fracture on his right hand is progressing. ... Texas LHP Derek Holland said his back felt fine, and he was ready to resume his recovery from left knee surgery. Holland was scratched from a rehab start with Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday because of back spasms. ... Texas OF Shin-Soo Choo sat out because he was "a little under the weather," manager Ron Washington said.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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