ARLINGTON -- With seven imperfect but effective innings in the Rangers’ 7-4 win over the White Sox on Sunday, Texas right-hander Adrian Sampson shook off a pair of lackluster starts that had derailed his promising season.
Sampson allowed one earned run on his way to his sixth win. He scattered seven hits, all singles -- including four leadoff hits -- but he always seemed to find a way out of jams. Three double plays by his defense helped, and Sampson also limited traffic in his later innings, retiring nine of the final 10 hitters he faced.
For a young pitcher who is still trying to make an impression on the organization, Sunday’s outing was a positive step.
“My foot’s in the door and I keep trying to get in there -- I’ll eventually get the whole body in there at some point,” Sampson said. “But [I’ll] continue having my foot in the door and keep putting pressure on the guys up top and showing that I belong here.”
The fifth inning provided the most difficult test for Sampson, as he allowed three consecutive singles to start the frame, including Tim Anderson’s liner that drove in Chicago’s first run. But he recovered to set down the next three hitters in order.
“It resembled a lot of the Sampson we’ve seen a lot of the year, where he’s in command of his pitches, had that slider going,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said.
Before his recent setbacks, Sampson had a 3.72 ERA in 67 2/3 innings this season. But he was knocked around for a 10.13 ERA in his last two starts, surrendering four homers and 13 hits.
After Sampson threw his last pitch, however, things got “a little hairy,” to use his words. In the eighth inning, reliever Pete Fairbanks loaded the bases and walked in a run before being pulled for lefty Brett Martin. Then center fielder Delino DeShields misplayed a line drive, leading to two more runs.
It took the intervention of closer Shawn Kelley, who had bullpen coach Oscar Marin phone the dugout to let them know he was ready and willing to go for a four-out save, to avoid blowing a four-run lead in the eighth.
“I saw the way the eighth was going -- I’m not the freshest I’ve ever been, but I felt like I could get four outs if we needed,” said Kelley, who faced four batters in the ninth to earn his 10th save.
“When you’re pitching a lot … the up and down is tough, especially as you get a little older like myself,” Kelley said. “I felt like in the moment that they needed to be aware that if they wanted to use me here to get an out in the eighth, I’m good to do it and I’ll have enough energy to still do the ninth.”
While Kelley was getting warm, Martin struck out Yonder Alonso after the error, and Kelley came in and struck out Anderson, one of the hottest White Sox hitters.
“I wanted to get in there and help out,” Kelley said.
In the bottom of the inning, to help Kelley, Nomar Mazara and DeShields each drove in an insurance run. DeShields' RBI single was part of a 3-for-3 day.
The Texas offense gave Sampson a quick lead with a four-run second inning off White Sox starter Ivan Nova. Rougned Odor doubled, took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a sacrifice fly. With two outs, Tim Federowicz hit a solo homer and Danny Santana hit a two-run shot after Shin-Soo Choo reached on an error.
The Rangers are 28-15 at home this season, their last at Globe Life Park, and their win total matches the Yankees for the second-most home wins in the Majors this season. But as they embark on a six-game road trip starting Tuesday in Detroit, they’re only 14-21 on the road. As they try to build on their season-high of six games above .500 (42-36), Texas will be on the road for nine of the 13 games leading into the All-Star break.