ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas starter Nick Tepesch proved why he won the fifth and final position in the rotation Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Tepesch starred in his big-league debut, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1, the Rangers' third consecutive victory.
The right-hander allowed one run on four hits in 7 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out five, setting down 16 consecutive batter during a stretch from the third to eighth innings.
A large part of Tepesch's success came on limiting balls in the air. Just three Tampa Bay swings sent the ball into the air, while the Rays grounded out 15 times against him, including five to first baseman Mitch Moreland.
Tepesch departed in the eighth after allowing his first hit out of the infield since the second, but reliever Robbie Ross cleaned up with back-to-back outs. Jason Frasor pitched a scoreless ninth to seal Texas' win.
The Rays' only offense against Tepesch came in the third inning. Desmond Jennings opened up with a leadoff double, with the ball bouncing off the warning track and into the center field wall. Jennings advanced to third on a grounder and came into score on Ben Zobrist's softly hit groundout to Moreland.
Texas countered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Ian Kinsler followed up a Leonys Martin walk with the Rangers' first hit of the game. Lance Berkman then hit a short fly that fell in shallow right-center, knocking in both runners.
The Rangers added two runs in the fifth and two more in the seventh, with Elvis Andrus knocking in one in each inning.
Rays starter Roberto Hernandez (0-2) was charged with all six runs, five of them earned, in 6 2/3 innings.
With the win, the Rangers clinched their third straight series victory to start the season. It's the third consecutive year in which Texas has won its first three series.
The Rangers attempt to complete the sweep the Rays on Wednesday afternoon.
NOTES: Texas OF Julio Borbon was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Tepesch. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release or outright Borbon to the minor leagues. ... Tepesch is the first Ranger to pitch into the eighth inning in his major league debut since John Dettmer on June 16, 1994. ... Tampa Bay RHP Jeff Niemann had an MRI on his right shoulder Tuesday, and he has been scheduled for season-ending surgery Wednesday. ... Rangers starter Matt Harrison is day-to-day with lower back soreness. Harrison left early in Saturday's game, and his scheduled Thursday start against the Seattle Mariners is in jeopardy.