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Rangers' rotation struggles continue in loss to O's

Wolf allows seven runs on nine hits, two walks over two-plus innings

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, in their attempt to acquire either Matt Garza or another starting pitcher, did not increase their bargaining power on Saturday night.

Instead, the six-week decline of the Rangers' rotation continued when starter Ross Wolf could not get through the third inning in a 7-4 loss to the Orioles at the Ballpark in Arlington. On the night when former catcher Ivan Rodriguez was inducted into the club's Hall of Fame, the Rangers lost for the sixth time in seven games.

This is why the Rangers worked diligently on Friday to complete a deal for Garza. They were hoping to get him to Texas in time to make this start. Instead, the trade talks have veered off course because of some medical concerns over one of the players the Rangers were giving up in the deal, and now they are still pondering what to do about their rotation. Clubs with starting pitching available to trade may be surmising that the Rangers are approaching what is known as dire straits.

"It's obvious it hasn't been good," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "There have been some growing pains in these six weeks, and we just have to grind through it. That's all we can do. Each day we send somebody out there, we feel good they can keep us in the ballgame. Some days they do, some days they don't."

The Rangers trailed, 7-0, through three innings and have lost two consecutive games since the All-Star break. So have the Athletics, and the Rangers remain two games out of first place in the American League West.

"I've seen it a few times in my career, it's amazing how routine baseball is," outfielder David Murphy said. "You get away from the field for a few days, and it takes you a few days to get back into sync. In my opinion, I feel like we're still getting the rust off a little bit from the All-Star break these last few days."

Wolf, who was inserted into the rotation after the All-Star break in place of Justin Grimm, allowed seven runs in two-plus innings. He faced 16 batters and allowed 11 to reach base on nine hits and two walks in his third Major League start as his ERA shot up from 2.14 to 3.79.

"Execution ... I feel like I didn't execute some pitches and they found some holes," Wolf said. "They have a good lineup, and if you make mistakes, they're going to punish you."

The Rangers expect Yu Darvish to come off the disabled list on Monday and Alexi Ogando is due off on Tuesday. But even if both come back to full strength right away, the Rangers are still looking for another starter to go along with Derek Holland and Martin Perez in the five-man rotation.

Since June 6, the day Ogando was retroactively placed on the disabled list, Rangers starters are 10-15 with a 5.14 ERA in 39 games. The Rangers are 18-21 overall in that stretch and only 12 of those 39 outings by the starter met the minimum standards for a quality start: six or more innings and three or fewer earned runs.

Instead, most nights have been the reverse. This was the 18th time in the last 39 games that the Rangers' starter has not been able to pitch at least six innings and the 21st time in that stretch the starter has allowed at least four runs in a game.

Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez was more than quality for his team, holding the Rangers to one run on eight hits through 6 2/3 innings. He has allowed two runs over 13 1/3 innings in two straight winning starts over the Rangers.

"A lot of credit goes to Miggy," Wolf said. "He pitched a heckuva game and I didn't pick up my [end]. "I got away from what I do best and that's compete with them."

Wolf began his night by giving up a single to Nate McLouth in the first. McLouth then stole second. Wolf got Manny Machado to ground out to short but walked Nick Markakis and gave up a pair of run-scoring singles to Adam Jones and Chris Davis that gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

A one-out triple by McLouth and a single by Machado made it 3-0 in the second. Wolf got Markakis to hit into an inning-ending double play, but that was the last batter he retired on the night.

Jones led off the third with a home run and Davis just missed one with a double off the center-field wall. Matt Wieters walked and a single by J.J. Hardy loaded the bases.

Joseph Ortiz was then summoned from the bullpen. But before he could get out of the inning, he gave up a pair of singles to Henry Urrutia and Brian Roberts that brought home three more runs. They were all charged to Wolf.

"They came out and jumped on him," Washington said. "He got a pitch down, and they hit it. He got some pitches up, and they hit it. They kept finding holes. That's about it."

Wolf is in the rotation because Grimm has a 9.91 ERA in his last eight starts and Nick Tepesch is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow. Grimm has been put in the bullpen and Tepesch is still limited in his throwing program. He is not expected to be an option anytime soon.

Wolf's spot comes up again on Thursday against the Yankees. The Rangers have four days to figure out what they're going to do.

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, Ross Wolf