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Ross blanks Indians for seven innings, strikes out eight

Choice boosts offense with his fourth homer of the spring

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Robbie Ross appears to have cemented his case for a spot in the Rangers' rotation. For Indians starter Josh Tomlin, he may have to wait at least another day to know where he stands in the race for Cleveland's final starting job.

In a 5-0 Cactus League victory for Texas, Ross continued his solid spring showing for a Rangers squad that has been hit with a rash of injuries this spring. The left-hander cruised through seven innings against the Indians, keeping them off the scoreboard and racking up eight strikeouts against three walks.

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"He's still out there. He is one of five," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He's done nothing to change that. He has been doing everything. That was some of the best stuff I've seem from him pitching as long as I've been watching him pitching. What he has done is outstanding. You can't ask anything more than what he has done."

Cleveland put the leadoff man aboard in both the first and second innings, but Ross settled in and quickly recorded three outs in each case. In the fourth inning, the lefty issued consecutive walks to Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, but then retired the next two batters to escape unscathed.

Ross now has a 1.27 ERA with 13 strikeouts and four walks in 20 1/3 Cactus League innings.

"I just tried to go out and do the best I could," Ross said of his spring. "It ended up pretty good. I had a bunch of guys making plays behind me."

Tomlin, who is up against Carlos Carrasco for the final opening in Cleveland's rotation, was charged with four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings of work. The right-hander struck out five, giving him 19 strikeouts and four walks in 20 1/3 Cactus League innings this spring for the Tribe.

"I felt pretty good. I made a couple mistakes," Tomlin said. "That first inning kind of got away from me a little bit, but after that I kind of settled back in and I was able to locate some pitches and move the ball around, and get some outs."

Texas opened the afternoon with two straight singles against Tomlin, who later surrendered a two-run single to Adrian Beltre with one out. On the play, Beltre ran a few too many steps beyond first base, allowing Indians second baseman Kipnis to tag him out after a swift relay.

Tomlin proceeded to keep the Rangers quiet until the sixth inning.

With two outs, Tomlin issued a free pass to Mitch Moreland. Texas center fielder Michael Choice followed by drilling a 2-1 offering over the wall in left field on a low line drive. The two-run home run -- Choice's fourth shot of the spring -- pushed the Rangers to a 4-0 advantage.

"It was just a hanging curveball," Tomlin said of the pitch to Choice. "I kind of backed it up a little bit and the guy put a good swing on it and hit it out.

Indians manager Terry Francona felt Tomlin tired as the outing wore on.

"As with the rest of them, I thought as he got a little stretched out, I think he got a little fatigued," Francona said. "I think that's part of the program. The first inning, you've got a hit-and-run on the second hitter of the game and we make a throw that we probably shouldn't have. Those are the two runs that scored. After that, he settled down and pitched really well."

After the game, Francona said he planned on meeting with general manager Chris Antonetti to go over the team's final rotation and bullpen decisions. Cleveland will likely announce its moves Wednesday morning. Whether Tomlin makes the Opening Day rotation or not, Francona was impressed with he right-hander's showing this spring.

"I think he's as professional and hard-working and good teammate as you're ever going to find," Francona said. "That will never change. It'll probably only get better, if possible."

Up next: Right-hander Colby Lewis pitches for the Rangers in their final game in Arizona. He will face the Mariners at 2 p.m. (CT) at Surprise Stadium. The game starts an hour earlier because the Rangers are leaving afterward for Texas.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.

Texas Rangers, Adrian Beltre, Michael Choice, Mitch Moreland, Robbie Ross