Texas Rangers right-hander Mark Lowe entered a game with a one-run lead Monday for the first time all season.
"And it won't be the last," manager Ron Washington said after Lowe's perfect seventh inning in the Rangers' 2-1 win over San Diego.
Lowe needed just 10 pitches to strike out a pair of Padres and get a groundout.
The Rangers need a seventh-inning reliever right now. Their top two options -- Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara -- are on the disabled list and likely out until after the All-Star break. That leaves Lowe and left-hander Robbie Ross as the two replacements. The Rangers don't want to commit Ross, the team's only lefty reliever, to a specific inning, so it opens up the window of opportunity for Lowe even wider.
Because he's had command issues, Lowe has been relegated to being a second-class citizen in the Texas bullpen. He had been designated to often pitch when the club was behind in order to save the "winning pieces" for more important outings or to mop-up blowout wins. Lowe had appeared in 23 games before Monday, only eight of which were wins. In those eight wins, the smallest lead he had to work with was five runs. The average: eight runs.
"It's been awhile, hasn't it," Lowe said of entering a close game, "but that's a tribute to our bullpen. I've done what has been asked of me whenever they've asked it of me. Tonight my job was to hand the ball to Mike (Adams) and Joe (Nathan). That's all it was. I've been around long enough to know that you don't look at it like it's an opportunity. You look at it like it's your job that day. With as much talent as we have down there, the worst thing I could do is try to make it into something it isn't."