Garza pitches 2-hitter as Rays shut out Rangers

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Matt Garza slammed the rosin bag to the ground and kicked the dirt on the mound.

The Tampa Bay right-hander was angry at himself—not the scorekeeper— after Garza’s bid for the first no-hitter in Rays history ended on a debatable call after his two-strike pitch with two outs in the sixth inning of a 7-0 victory over the slumping Texas Rangers.

“I was upset I hung that slider,” Garza said. “It’s a hit.”

Ian Kinsler knocked a looping flyball into short center that ricocheted off the glove of charging outfielder Justin Ruggiano. The play was almost immediately ruled a hit.

“I just thought it was an inappropriate call. I called upstairs and I never do,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

But any questions about that costing Garza (10-7) a no-hitter were erased when Josh Hamilton led off the seventh with a solid single up the middle.

Still, it was a dominating performance by the 24-year-old Garza, who threw a two-hitter for his second career shutout—both in the last four games. It was also his third complete game.

“It was fun. I had a blast,” Garza said. “I kept attacking, kept going after people.”

A Tampa Bay lineup missing injured stars Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford hit four home runs in 4 2-3 innings to build a 5-0 lead against Kevin Millwood (6-7), who was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list to start.

Garza struck out nine and walked two while throwing 78 of 119 pitches for strikes. None of the Rangers’ four base runners got past first.

“You can have the best offense in the league, which we do, but when a guy is throwing like that you’re not going to hit the ball,” right fielder Marlon Byrd said. “It’s as simple as that.”

In his two previous starts since a five-hitter to shut out Toronto on July 29, Garza had allowed nine runs in 10 2-3 innings.

But after Hamilton walked with two outs in the first, Garza retired 15 straight batters before Kinsler’s hit.

“That was pretty dominant. Facing that lineup, their numbers are particularly outstanding at home. They’re good, real good, not just OK,” Maddon said. “He was throwing his fastball down at that velocity, plus command of the breaking ball and the changeup, pounding the strike zone.”

Ruggiano, who had replaced B.J. Upton in the field to start the sixth, ran a long way and got his glove on Kinsler’s ball but couldn’t hold on to it. Maddon made the change after Upton failed to run hard on his double-play grounder that ended the top of the inning.

“He wanted to make a move,” said Upton, who had been pulled from a previous game for the same reason. “I guess I’m the only one not running ‘em out.”

The Rays (74-47) have a 3 1/2 -game division lead over Boston, which was rained out at home against Toronto on Friday night.

Texas (61-62) was shut out for the second game in a row and the fourth time in eight games—after being held scoreless only once the first 115 games. The Rangers dropped below .500 for the first time since June 20.

The Rangers lost 10-0 Thursday night at Boston, ending a three-game sweep by the Red Sox, who had 10-run and nine-run innings the first two games.

“Tonight, everyone was just dead. We just didn’t do our jobs,” Kinsler said. “We’re definitely not playing good right now.”

Willy Aybar homered on the first pitch of the fourth, his ball into the right-field corner barely clearing the wall.

Carlos Pena made it 2-0 in the fifth when he hit his 24th homer, and Millwood was gone after Eric Hinske and Gabe Gross hit back-to-back shots. Hinske hit a two-run shot before Gross hit a ball that skimmed the top of the left-center wall.

Millwood, the Rangers’ No. 1 pitcher coming off his second DL stint because of a strained right groin, allowed five runs and 10 hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in 4 2-3 innings.

“It seemed like every time I missed, they hit the ball hard,” Millwood said.

Notes

The last time the Rangers were shut out in consecutive games was Sept. 2-3, 2004. The Rangers have also been shut out in consecutive home games. They lost 3-0 to the New York Yankees on Aug. 7 before their six-game road trip. … Byrd left the game with a hyperextended left elbow. He got hurt when he slammed into the wall on Aybar’s homer. … Garza joined Andy Sonnanstine and James Shields as 10-game winners for Tampa Bay. … Clay Council, the 71-year-old American Legion coach from North Carolina who Hamilton had pitch to him for the All-Star Home Run Derby, threw a few BP pitches to Hamilton before the game. But Hamilton, with only a few hours sleep since the birth of his daughter Thursday, hit only three homers in 13 swings. Hamilton had a record 28 homers in the first round at Yankee Stadium.

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