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Lewis, Rangers can't hold down first-place Royals

Veteran righty allows four runs, including two homers, in six innings

ARLINGTON -- Exactly a year ago, Colby Lewis had the second of two season-ending surgeries when he had an operation to repair a torn right hip flexor.

There was no guarantee Lewis would ever pitch on a big league mound again, much less at the high level he was pitching at before the elbow surgery two years ago. It's been an up-and-down season for Lewis, who didn't have a quality start until his 14th outing this year, but who also hurled a shutout earlier this month.

Lewis made his team-best 23rd start Friday night, but took the loss as the Rangers fell to the first-place Royals, 6-3, at Globe Life Park. He allowed four runs on six hits -- two of them home runs -- while striking out two in six innings. The Rangers offense began the night 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and was unable to give Lewis enough run support.

"It's kind of crazy. I didn't think that I would go up there and throw the most innings on this squad, having a hip replacement the year before," Lewis said. "I felt really good warming up in the bullpen but it didn't quite transfer. But I was able to go six innings and keep it as close as possible. Unfortunately, we didn't win."

Lewis' day began harmlessly enough as he retired the side in the first inning and took a 1-0 lead into the second, thanks to an RBI groundout by Adrian Beltre. But Lewis couldn't deliver a shutdown inning, starting the frame by serving up a 417-foot homer to left off the bat of Billy Butler.

Later in the inning, Lewis allowed singles to each of the last three hitters in the Royals lineup -- Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar -- to put the Rangers in a 3-1 hole.

"He just couldn't get the ball down," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "After that, he settled in. When he left the game, we were still in it. Just needed to get some offense going."

The fourth inning started the same way the second inning did for Lewis, with Josh Willingham leading off with a 408-foot blast to left-center, extending the Royals' lead to 4-1. Lewis retired the last eight batters he faced, but the damage had been done.

"He gives you fastballs to hit most of the time and if you can be on time and square it up, you've got a good chance of hitting it out," Willingham said of Lewis. "That's what happened tonight. He left me a fastball out over the plate."

Lewis fell to 8-11 on the year. The Rangers right-hander is 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA in his last three starts and 2-6 with a 5.59 ERA in his last eight.

"I wasn't able to locate very well with the fastball today," said Lewis. "The curveball and changeup kind of saved me in the later innings, getting some strikes when I needed to and pitching through the sixth."

After Elvis Andrus' single to center and Alex Rios' ground-rule double to left-center sparked a run-scoring rally in the first, the Rangers offense stalled against hard-throwing Royals rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura. They couldn't cash in on a leadoff double by Beltre in the fourth or when they put runners on first and second with two outs in the sixth.

"Some guys have good at-bats but can't find the holes," Beltre said. "I can't figure out why."

Adam Rosales and pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson led off the seventh with back-to-back doubles, trimming the Royals lead to 5-2. The Rangers made it a 5-3 game on Rios' RBI groundout later in the seventh, but would not score again.

Maybe this time next year, two years removed from the hip surgery, Lewis will be pitching for a healthy, playoff-contending Rangers squad. For now, the man who was once an invaluable piece to past pennant-winning puzzles is just grateful for the chance he has to take the mound.

"I'm really thankful for the opportunity the Rangers have given me to come back and take the mound every five days," said Lewis. "I don't know if anybody is ever like the way they were three, four or five years ago. I feel great. I feel healthy. I don't have any pain."

Christian Corona is a contributor to
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