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Rays battle cold to avoid sweep at Texas

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Tampa Bay Rays avoided a sweep Wednesday afternoon, defeating the Texas Rangers 2-0 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Tampa Bay starting pitcher Matt Moore (2-0) pitched through the second-coldest game ever at Rangers Ballpark, throwing 5 1/3 innings with five strikeouts. The 39-degree start was the coldest day-time start for Texas, and was just a degree from tying a 38 degree first-pitch against Boston in 2007.

"To get that win before heading back on the road makes a difference," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "We didn't play a perfect game in a lot of different ways. The guys were loose but focused at the same time and I liked that kind of approach. It's really good not to get swept. To get that win before going on the road makes a big difference."

Moore showed good command of his pitches following a 90-minute rain delay. The left-hander went 5 1/3 without allowing a hit before Craig Gentry sent a one-out single to right field. Moore finished with less than half of his 106 pitches going for strikes and walked six and but gave up just the one hit.

Tampa Bay took advantage of Texas starter Derek Holland's lack of ability to find the strike zone in the third to push its first run across the plate. Holland (0-1) walked the bases loaded and gave up a run on a sharply hit ground ball to Adrian Beltre. The Rangers failed to convert on the double play, allowing Kelly Johnson to score from third.

Desmond Jennings opened up the fifth inning with a lead-off double to right-center field. Jennings scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly.

Texas appeared to grab a run back in the sixth with the bases loaded. Following Moore's departure, a single and a walk loaded the bases for the Rangers, bringing Mitch Moreland to the plate. The first baseman sent a grounder to second, but Moreland beat the throw at first. However, second base umpire Marty Foster ruled that Rangers runner Jeff Baker left the base path.

"I was just trying to bring up the double and triple clutch before the throw," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of his argument with the umpire. "But he made the correct call. It was obvious he ran out of the line."

Foster was the umpire who made the questionable strike-three call to end Monday's series opener.

The Rangers threatened with runners on second and third with one out in the eighth. Beltre reached on a hit to right and David Murphy doubled on a liner down the right-field line. Leonys Martin pinch-hit for Baker, sending the second pitch high to right field and Beltre tagged at third. Ben Zobrist made the catch and threw a liner to home, with catcher Jose Lobaton tagging Beltre out at the plate.

"Fortunately when I let it fly it was on line," Zobrist said. "The last two days were tough days and tough losses for us. Getting a win heading into the off day feels a lot better, albeit with how cold it was we got the W, and that's what's important."

Moore gave way to three relievers: Cesar Ramos, Jake McGee and Joel Peralta. The trio pitched a combined 2 1/3 innings without allowing a run to set up Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney. Rodney allowed the first Ranger to reach on a single, but retired three consecutive batters to end the game for his first save of the season.

Holland finished with his second consecutive quality start, despite picking up his first loss. Holland pitched eight innings, striking out four with three walks -- all coming in the third inning. Both Tampa Bay runs were credited to Holland.

"He was outstanding. I'll take that every day," Washington said. "Tampa just did a better job and kept us off the board. I am very satisfied. We won both series and it's very hard to sweep a major league team."

Texas finished with eight walks in the game, a club record for walks without scoring a run. The Rangers were the first team since Colorado in 2010 to record eight passes without crossing the plate.

Tampa Bay has a day off before traveling to Boston for an American League East Division clash with the Red Sox. Texas travels to face Seattle on Thursday.

NOTES: Before Wednesday's game, the Rangers placed SP Matt Harrison on the 15-day disabled list due to a lower back strain. Justin Grimm is scheduled to take Harrison's previously scheduled start on Thursday. ... Texas traded C Juan Apodaca to Tampa Bay during Wednesday's game for cash considerations. Apodaca began the season with Triple-A Round Rock. ... At the conclusion of the game, Texas announced that Nolan Ryan would remain with the club as the Rangers' CEO.
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