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Scheppers, Ross make case in four-inning shifts

Candidates for Rangers rotation turn in solid outings; Choice rips RBI double

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds scored two runs in the second inning and held on for a 2-1 victory over the Rangers on Friday night before a club-record crowd of 8,015 at Goodyear Ballpark.

Part of a battle for a rotation spot on the Rangers, Tanner Scheppers pitched four innings and gave up two earned runs and three hits with two walks, five strikeouts and two wild pitches.

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The Reds started a two-out rally in the second inning when Zack Cozart lined a single to right field. Devin Mesoraco followed with a walk and both runners advanced on a wild pitch to Chris Nelson. A two-run single by Nelson to left field made it a 2-0 game. Nelson was thrown out after rounding too far past first base.

"The main thing is I got through my four innings, but in the second inning, I made a mistake to Cozart and he took advantage of it," Scheppers said. "I have to bear down and flush my mistakes. I wish my changeup was better but other than that, I was pretty happy with the outing. I'm just happy for the experience and the opportunity. That's all I can control out there. Everything else will fall into place."

It was a good night for Reds starter Johnny Cueto, who allowed one run and five hits with no walks and five strikeouts over five innings. Cueto also picked up an inning-ending double play when former Red Shin-Soo Choo batted in the top of the third.

In the fourth inning with one out and a runner on first base, Texas got to Cueto. After Alex Rios hit a single to center field, Billy Hamilton threw out Elvis Andrus trying to go from first to third base on the play. Rios was going to second base on the throw when the third baseman, Nelson, airmailed a throw into the outfield for an error that advanced Rios.

Michael Choice's RBI double to left field scored Rios and made it a one-run game.

"I was happy. Everything was good," Cueto said. "Everything was working for my breaking ball. Everything was down and going straight."

Like Scheppers, another Texas reliever from last season trying to get into the rotation -- Robbie Ross -- pitched four scoreless innings and allowed only five hits.

"They did a great job," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Scheppers and Ross. "Tanner worked around some issues in the early innings but he made some pitches. Robbie came in and worked on both sides of the plate and kept the ball down ... really great pitching. He is bringing in his changeup, and his breaking ball is good. He threw the ball very well."

Up next: Catcher Geovany Soto will be behind the plate working with Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch when the Rangers play the Athletics at 1:05 p.m. Saturday in Phoenix. This will be Soto's second start since coming back from surgery on his left ankle. This will be the third outing for both Lewis and Tepesch. Watch the action live on MLB.TV.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for

Texas Rangers, Michael Choice, Shin-Soo Choo, Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers