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Ross, Rangers can't contain big inning vs. White Sox

Lefty allows two homers, four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings

ARLINGTON -- In his fourth outing as a starter, Robbie Ross Jr. did a lot of what he expects to do in that role Sunday. He worked quickly. He kept his pitch count down and just more than three-quarters of his 86 pitches were strikes. He hasn't walked a batter in his last 13 innings, and he struck out a career-high eight Sunday.

Meanwhile Ross' White Sox counterpart, Erik Johnson, walked five and barely more than half of his 87 pitches were strikes.

Yet none of that mattered by the end of a 16-2 blowout loss to Chicago. Johnson got the win, Ross got the loss, and the Rangers ended a successful homestand on a downbeat. Ross allowed home runs to Jordan Danks and Jose Abreu and surrendered a total of seven runs, though only four were earned.

Maybe throwing strikes wasn't all it was cracked up to be Sunday.

"If you hit your location and are throwing strikes, it's never detrimental -- he just missed his location on a few of them," manager Ron Washington said.

Johnson, on the other hand, was "effectively wild" according to Washington. He yielded only one hit but walked the leadoff man in each of the first four innings. Still, the Rangers could hardly break through. Shin-Soo Choo walked in the first, but was caught stealing. Prince Fielder walked in the second, but was out on an inning-ending double play two batters later.
The leadoff hitters in the third and fourth, Josh Wilson and Elvis Andrus, were able to score on a Shin-Soo Choo sacrifice fly and a Johnson wild pitch, respectively, but that was it for the Rangers.
The fifth and sixth innings provided the decisive runs. The game was tied thanks to Danks' two-run homer in the third -- a shot that clanged off the ribbon scoreboard in front of the upper deck in right field. In the fifth, Tyler Flowers singled to start the inning, then took third on a throwing error on a potential double-play ball by Rangers third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. That led to three unearned runs in the inning, including two on Abreu's shot to right.
"We didn't make a play behind [Ross] and that opened things up," Washington said.
After Ross left in the sixth, the game got out of hand when White Sox leadoff hitter Marcus Semien hit a two-out, bases-loaded triple to give the White Sox an 8-2 lead. Those three earned runs were charged to Ross.
"I started missing here and there … it happens sometimes," Ross said. "Obviously I'd love to go out there and throw my best game every day, but sometimes you've just got to battle through it. It was one of those games where stuff just wasn't happening personally and things just weren't going our way."
Chicago tacked on seven runs in the top of the ninth for the biggest margin of defeat the Rangers have been dealt this season and the second-biggest margin in the majors this season. The White Sox racked up 18 hits off four Rangers pitchers.
The pivotal sixth inning started with a Dayan Viciedo double off Ross, who struck out the next batter, Alexei Ramirez. But the third strike was a wild pitch that allowed Ramirez to reach first base.
The next batter, Alejandro De Aza, was called out on an instant replay that didn't allow a hit by pitch -- umpires originally ruled that Alejandro De Aza, who appeared to be hit on the hand, was out on a checked swing. Manager Robin Ventura challenged the ruling, but replay officials allowed the original call -- that De Aza was not hit by a pitch -- to stand.
The ruling confused Ventura and De Aza, who said: "What I know is I didn't swing the bat, and the ball hit me and hit the bat. I've never seen anything like that."
De Aza was the last batter Ross faced before Shawn Tolleson relieved him, and Tolleson got a quick strikeout for the second out. Washington decided to intentionally walk No. 9 hitter Danks, a lefty, to face the right-handed Semien. The move backfired when Semien hit a drive off the wall in left-center and cleared the bases.
The loss snapped the Rangers' five-game winning streak. They finished their 10-game, 10-day homestand at 7-3.
"We're definitely satisfied with the way things came out" in the homestand, Washington said. "We won each series. If we can just keep winning series, we'll be fine."

Dave Sessions is a contributor to
Read More: Texas Rangers, Shin-Soo Choo, Robbie Ross Jr., Shawn Tolleson, Elvis Andrus