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Back from break, Rangers still struggle with men on

O's rob homer from Beltre as Texas leaves 10 stranded in Holland's loss

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and Adrian Beltre had a home run taken away from him by right-fielder Nick Markakis. Jeff Baker had a brilliant baserunning play that led to one run, but was also thrown out on the bases at a crucial time to cost the Rangers another run.

The Rangers did not get off to a great start offensively when the second half began Friday night and they lost to the Orioles, 3-1, at the Ballpark in Arlington. A couple of missed defensive plays also cost the Rangers one run on their way to a fifth loss in six games dating back before the All-Star break.

"We were so close," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "You're that close and you're not able to execute, for sure you get mad. But the only way to win is by creating opportunities. Sooner or later, you're going to get the key hit."

The Rangers are still waiting to get the key hit after getting a runner on base in eight of nine innings. They also had a runner in scoring position in six of nine innings, but scored only one run against Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen and relievers Darren O'Day and Jim Johnson.

"We just couldn't get the hit with runners in scoring position," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "It was one of those nights where we got guys out there, but we couldn't get them in. That's frustrating, but those things happen."

The Rangers are 4-for-37 with runners in scoring position in their last six games. They were hitless in four of those games and 19 overall with runners in scoring position this season. They are 2-17 in those games.

"Whatever it is, we didn't get it done," Beltre said.

Chen ended up getting the win and has won two straight starts over the Rangers since coming off the disabled list. He is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three career outings against them.

Derek Holland pitched just as good as Chen and still took the loss after allowing three runs on just six hits in eight innings. But he gave up a home run to Matt Wieters in the second and, after a leadoff walk, an RBI double to Nate McLouth in the third to fall behind, 2-0.

The Rangers picked up a run in the fourth, only after Beltre hit a deep fly ball that was headed for a home run before Markakis snatched it, clearly extended over the right-field wall.

Baker then singled and demonstrated some heads-up baserunning. Mitch Moreland, with the infield shifted severely toward the right side, drew a walk. Baker jogged to second on the fourth ball, then noticed Orioles third baseman Manny Machado late getting back to his normal position. Baker bolted for third and made it easily. He scored on Craig Gentry's sacrifice fly.

"Machado had his head down and wasn't getting back to third base with any urgency," Baker said. "As soon as I saw him put his head down, I just went and was able to get in there pretty easy."

But then things got frustrating for the Rangers. Holland retired the first two batters in the fifth before Machado reached base on an infield hit -- a grounder up the middle that second baseman Ian Kinsler scooped up behind the bag, but bounced a throw to first that Moreland couldn't handle.

Markakis followed with a high pop to left-center. Gentry, starting in center, came in and missed a diving catch, and left fielder Jurickson Profar overran the ball while backing up. It got behind him and Machado came all the way around to score.

"I'm not really sure. [Profar] was playing a little farther over than I thought," Gentry said. "The ball was in between and I couldn't get there."

Said Profar, "(Gentry) dove and almost caught it, so I couldn't see the ball if he caught it or not."

Kinsler led off the fifth with a double and the Rangers couldn't get him home. Andrus moved him to third with a grounder to the right side. But Chen retired Pierzynski on a grounder back to the mound and Beltre on a grounder to third to end the inning.

In the sixth, Baker led off with a single. After Moreland struck out, Gentry doubled into right-center. Baker raced around third, but was held up at the last second by third-base coach Gary Pettis. Center fielder Adam Jones overthrew the cutoff man, but shortstop J.J. Hardy was right behind him. He corralled the throw, then caught Baker too far off third base and fired over for the out.

"I'm going pretty hard," Baker said. I'm running hard the whole way. I pick him up right before I hit the bag. I see him waving me, so I hit the bag and then he put the stop sign. I tried to get back the best I could, and they had me."

It was that kind of game for the Rangers on the first night of the second half.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.
Read More: Texas Rangers, Derek Holland