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Bullpen stymies Sox, but bends in 11th

MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers dropped another heartbreaker on Monday, losing 7-5 to the Red Sox in 11 innings. But instead of blowing another save, the bullpen kept the Rangers afloat until one team had to eventually break.

The Rangers entered Monday's game with a Major League-leading 17 blown saves, including its previous four losses. Over the past 23 2/3 innings, the bullpen had allowed 19 earned runs, raising its season ERA from 4.21 to 4.48. But against the Red Sox, the bullpen slowed down a high-octane Boston offense until it couldn't hang on any longer.

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ARLINGTON -- The Rangers dropped another heartbreaker on Monday, losing 7-5 to the Red Sox in 11 innings. But instead of blowing another save, the bullpen kept the Rangers afloat until one team had to eventually break.

The Rangers entered Monday's game with a Major League-leading 17 blown saves, including its previous four losses. Over the past 23 2/3 innings, the bullpen had allowed 19 earned runs, raising its season ERA from 4.21 to 4.48. But against the Red Sox, the bullpen slowed down a high-octane Boston offense until it couldn't hang on any longer.

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Starter Martin Perez threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs (two earned) and seven hits while striking out three and walking four. He was starting for the first time since coming off the disabled list with a fracture and laceration of the tip of his right thumb, and he was using a protective tube in his glove to guard his thumb from injury.

"Yeah, [everything was good], especially my curveball. I threw a lot of curveballs today. We mixed the signs, and I think we played a good game, but we just need to come back tomorrow and try to put everything together."

Video: BOS@TEX: Banister on missed opportunities in 7-5 loss

After Perez exited, four Rangers pitchers combined to throw 4 1/3 innings of two-hit, scoreless ball while the Rangers' offense slowly climbed back from a three-run deficit.

Tony Barnette, in his first appearance back after missing time with a ring finger bruise, struck out two. So too, did Jason Grilli, making his 2017 Rangers debut. Matt Bush and Jose Leclerc each threw clean innings as well before the fifth reliever of the night, Ernesto Frieri, gave up two runs in the 11th.

"Obviously, Barnette's first opportunity back. I think once he got through the first inning, the second inning he threw the ball well," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He threw strikes. The cutter was there, the breaking ball seemed to show up. Leclerc was outstanding. Thought Matt Bush threw the ball well.

"There until the last, the walk to the nine-hole hitter, that sets up that entire inning. Their leadoff guy, ball elevated out over the plate, hooks it off the wall. You've got runners at ... second and third, which sets up that entire inning. I thought Frieri threw a good pitch, got in on the hands, that ball stays up in the air. You go back and look at some of the balls we hit hard, and then our bloops don't fall in. The game of baseball is very cruel in certain instances and very rewarding for others."

It's encouraging to hold a team that ranks near the top in all of baseball in most offensive stats, but moral victories aren't cutting it for a team that's now three games under .500, and Banister knows it. These types of performances have to start turning into wins.

"When you continue to ask these guys to pitch out of jams consistently, then it creates challenges for you," Banister said. "Their starter made it challenging on us. We were able to break through there late, and that's a ballgame we gotta find a way to come through in those situations, and put it away at home in our ballpark."

Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington.

Texas Rangers