BOSTON -- The Rangers left Fenway Park and headed to Cincinnati with a four-game series split against the defending World Series champions. Instead of settling for the two wins, they recognize two missed opportunities.
"We had a chance, honestly, to win all four games," manager Chris Woodward said following the Rangers' 7-6 loss on Thursday. "We had a chance to sweep them."
The Rangers took the series opener with an 11-inning victory and followed up with 9-5 win that featured an inside-the-park home run by Hunter Pence. But Wednesday's 4-3 loss came via a walk-off walk issued by Jesse Chavez, and the Rangers' five-run lead on Thursday was erased by five Red Sox home runs.
"If we come up with a big hit yesterday, we were up 6-1 today -- you're going to lose games at times like that -- but those are games you've got to win," Woodward said. "You've got a 6-1 lead against this team, you've got to beat them. But that's baseball."
Adrian Sampson, who entered the night with a five-game win streak, allowed six runs (four homers) and seven hits over five innings. Woodward noticed Sampson's slider was off from the start of the game, but he didn't have enough bullpen arms available to pull Sampson early and stretch the relievers over four to five innings.
"Credit to those guys, they didn't miss a lot of mistakes and they made me pay for it a little bit," Sampson said. "I've just got to do a better job of putting up zeros after we scored some runs early. Our hitters did a great job of putting us ahead in a huge game -- it's a game we could have won the series -- and they just took advantage of some mistakes I made."
The Rangers put their stamp on the game early and chased Red Sox starter David Price after only 1 1/3 innings. Elvis Andrus drove in a team-high three runs in the first two innings, reaching 12 RBIs in his last 14 games. Up 6-1, though, the Rangers didn't score after the second inning.
"That's baseball," Pence said. "They've got really good pitching and we had a lot of good at-bats. ... You've got to play all nine, and you've got to keep finding ways to get runs in, and it just didn't happen tonight."
Pence's inside-the-park homer Tuesday was the Rangers' only home run of the series against the Red Sox.
"That just goes to show yo, those guys over there are going to prevent slug," Woodward said. "They're going to keep you in the ballpark. That's something that we talk about with our pitchers a lot. Today we just unfortunately didn't do that."
The Rangers will have to move on quickly from the split when they get a fresh start against the Reds. Chavez will get the nod as the bullpen starter since Drew Smyly was shifted out of Friday's starting spot and into the bullpen. Woodward did not put a number on how many innings Chavez will pitch. The veteran snapped his 22 2/3-inning scoreless streak on Wednesday.
Even though it is a unique pitching scenario, the Rangers are not going to try to overcompensate by trying to do too much at the plate.
"I think if you get into a routine of, 'Oh, let's do more because now this is the pitching situation,' that's never a good state," Pence said. "You always want to be in your best state. I think by being ourselves and continuing with our approach and the process, we'll have a good day."
The Rangers are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 12-20 on the road this season as they travel to Cincinnati for three games.