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Colon bit by homer bug in Rangers' loss to Sox

Veteran righty allows four solo shots, three to lead off innings
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Bartolo Colon has pitched well this season, but he has had problems with the leadoff batter in innings, and that cost him in Friday's showdown of Cy Young Award winners.

Colon gave up four solo home runs over seven innings -- including three leading off an inning -- and couldn't keep up with Red Sox starter Rick Porcello in a 5-1 loss at Globe Life Park.

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ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Bartolo Colon has pitched well this season, but he has had problems with the leadoff batter in innings, and that cost him in Friday's showdown of Cy Young Award winners.

Colon gave up four solo home runs over seven innings -- including three leading off an inning -- and couldn't keep up with Red Sox starter Rick Porcello in a 5-1 loss at Globe Life Park.

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Colon, the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner, gave up two home runs to Rafael Devers and one each to Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. The Rangers' only run in six innings off Porcello was on Nomar Mazara's home run in the fourth.

Video: BOS@TEX: Mazara homers in fourth straight game

"If you want to become a pitcher, take a look at those two guys, Bartolo and Rick," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "The way they do it is amazing."

The loss dropped Colon to 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA after five starts and two relief appearances, and the leadoff man has been his biggest issue. Martinez gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead with a home run to open the second. After Mazara's home run tied it in the fourth, Devers led off the Red Sox fifth by going deep, and Betts did the same in the sixth.

"This is going to happen to me," Colon said. "All the players know that I throw strikes, so they are going to be aggressive. Boston is a first-place team, and they have good hitters."

Including a single by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the third, Red Sox hitters were 4-for-7 leading off the inning against Colon. All other hitters were 1-for-19 against him, with the only hit being Devers' second home run, which came with one out in the seventh.

So far this season, Colon has allowed a .395 batting average to hitters leading off an inning. That includes six of eight home runs allowed, plus one of two doubles and the only triple against him. In all other plate appearances, opposing hitters are batting .141 against Colon.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said he doesn't see any issues that can be identified as the cause of Colon's problems to begin an inning.

"This is a guy who throws strikes," Banister said. "Hitters know that. They come out and are aggressive. The pitch to Martinez, I thought it looked like a very quality pitch, [but] he got it up in the air, a big strong man, and bounced it off the top of the wall. Betts is a tremendous hitter, one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now, he hit a quality pitch. So I don't look at that like there's any issue at all. Hitters come out and they're aggressive against him, and the ball leaks back out over the middle at times, and they put good swings on it."

Video: BOS@TEX: Banister discusses Colon's outing in loss

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No dice in the second: The Rangers had only three at-bats with runners in scoring position, and all three came in the second inning after a leadoff double by Mazara. Joey Gallo moved Mazara to third with a grounder to the right side, but with the Red Sox infield in, Isiah Kiner-Falefa couldn't get him home. He got jammed on an inside sinker and grounded out weakly to Devers at third. Mazara had to stay at third and was stranded when Porcello struck out Ronald Guzman to end the inning.

"You gotta take your hat off to Porcello tonight," Banister said. "It looked like he had pretty much everything going for himself."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Mazara has now homered in four straight games. He is the first Rangers player to hit a home run in four straight games since Mike Napoli on July 1-4 of last season. The club record is seven straight by Kevin Mench in 2006.

"He's got pretty good stuff," Mazara said about Porcello. "A cutter, a slider, a two-seam and a slow curveball, so when he's able to move those pitches like that, it's pretty tough to hit a homer against him."

HE SAID IT
"Yeah, to be honest, he was something of a phenom in the [Dominican Republic] and a superstar in my eyes. I was more happy just to face him. The home run was good, but I got more enjoyment just from facing him just because he's recognized pretty highly in the DR." -- Devers, on facing Colon

UP NEXT
Left-hander Cole Hamels will be looking for his first win since April 3 when he pitches against the Red Sox at 7:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Globe Life Park. Hamels is 0-3 with a 4.34 ERA in his last five starts, although he has allowed just two runs in three of those starts. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez pitches for the Red Sox.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Bartolo Colon