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Rangers' 'pen falters late in loss to Athletics

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister is trying to find some "range" from some of his relievers. That's another way of saying he's hoping for some to carry more of a workload and not let others get overworked.

That's why Kevin Jepsen was in the game in the ninth inning on Monday night instead of Keone Kela. Banister was hoping to stay away from Kela after using him two of the previous three games, but it didn't work out the way the manager wanted.

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ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister is trying to find some "range" from some of his relievers. That's another way of saying he's hoping for some to carry more of a workload and not let others get overworked.

That's why Kevin Jepsen was in the game in the ninth inning on Monday night instead of Keone Kela. Banister was hoping to stay away from Kela after using him two of the previous three games, but it didn't work out the way the manager wanted.

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With the game tied in the ninth, the Athletics scored six runs off Jepsen and Jesse Chavez to hand the Rangers a 9-4 loss at Globe Life Park.

"If we score in the eighth, we probably run [Kela] out there in a closing situation," Banister said. "But not in a tie game. We need to find some range from our relievers."

This has not been a fun homestand for the Rangers' relievers. They have been needed for 14 innings over four games and allowed 18 runs on 25 hits, including five home runs, and nine walks. All this coming after they had allowed just one run in 17 innings on a six-game road trip to Houston and Tampa Bay.

"First month of the season is always finicky," Jepsen said. "Sometimes you get off to a rough start, sometimes you get off to a great start. We'll find it, get back on a roll and go from there."

Part of the issue is a starting rotation with a 5.11 ERA and averaging just over five innings a start. That forces the bullpen into games earlier than desired. Matt Moore allowed three runs in five-plus innings before the leaving with 86 pitches thrown on Monday night.

Video: OAK@TEX: Moore strands a pair on a flyout

"I feel like I pitched out of some situations and gave us a chance to win," Moore said. "But I am still not as sharp as I need to be."

The other part is relievers not being able to finish their innings, especially on Monday, when Rangers pitchers allowed 14 hits and seven walks in nine innings. Jose Leclerc bailed Moore out in the sixth, but Matt Bush had to get him out of a seventh-inning jam. The Rangers wanted Alex Claudio to take care of the eighth, but Jepsen had to get the last out there before going to the ninth.

"We kind of created the situation for ourselves there in the ninth," Banister said. "I felt like Jepsen has been throwing the ball well for us. Went and got a big out for us, sent him back out, trying to gain some range in our bullpen. Over the last four days, everybody out there has thrown quite a bit."

Video: OAK@TEX: Banister on pitching woes, giving up chances

But Marcus Semien jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Jepsen and crushed it over the left-field wall to give the Athletics a 4-3 lead. Oakland added five more runs before the inning was over.

"Leading off the ninth inning with Semien, I know he's looking for a heater," Jepsen said. "I know if I put a fastball down and away, I'm safe, but it leaked back over the plate and he didn't miss it."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
DeShields gets caught: Delino DeShields singled with one out in the fifth with the game tied at 3, and he stole second as Shin-Soo Choo whiffed at a 2-0 pitch. DeShields then decided to steal third on the next pitch but broke too early. A's starter Trevor Cahill stepped off the mound, and DeShields was tagged out in an ensuing rundown.

Video: OAK@TEX: Cahill catches DeShields leaning, nabs him

SOUND SMART
DeShields had two hits on Monday night. It's only the second multi-hit game by a Rangers center fielder this season. He also had two stolen bases. Texas had one in its previous nine games.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Robinson Chirinos had one hit and eight strikeouts in his previous 16 at-bats when he came up in the fourth against Cahill. He jumped on a 1-1 breaking ball and put it in the left-field seats for a two-run home run that wiped out the Athletics' 3-1 lead.

Video: OAK@TEX: Chirinos belts a towering two-run homer

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
After Semien's homer, Jed Lowrie came up with one out and hit a ground ball to Jurickson Profar at shortstop. Lowrie was initially ruled out thanks to a nice play by first baseman Ronald Guzman, but the A's challenged the call. Lowrie was ruled safe, and Oakland went on to score five more runs and seal its victory.

Video: OAK@TEX: Lowrie reaches safely after review

UP NEXT
Left-hander Cole Hamels pitches against the Athletics at 7:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Globe Life Park. Hamels is 3-3 with a 4.11 ERA in eight career starts against the Athletics. His only win this season came against the A's on April 3, when he allowed one run in five innings. Andrew Triggs will start for the Athletics.

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, Robinson Chirinos