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Rangers win slugfest on walk-off wild pitch

Three homers fuel rallies before Gallo scores winning run as Texas takes opening series
@Sullivan_Ranger
March 31, 2019

ARLINGTON -- After all the big home runs, grinding at-bats and dramatic comebacks over three hours and 46 minutes, this one came to an end on a wild pitch. The Rangers staged two rallies to wipe out four- and three-run leads by the Cubs, heading to the bottom of the

ARLINGTON -- After all the big home runs, grinding at-bats and dramatic comebacks over three hours and 46 minutes, this one came to an end on a wild pitch.

The Rangers staged two rallies to wipe out four- and three-run leads by the Cubs, heading to the bottom of the ninth at Globe Life Park all tied up. Joey Gallo led off with a double to left and ended up scoring on reliever Pedro Strop’s wild pitch to give Texas a series-clinching 11-10 victory over Chicago in Sunday’s finale.

“That was a lot of fun,” said catcher Jeff Mathis, who celebrated his 36th birthday with one of Texas’ three home runs.

“It’s always good to find a way to win,” third baseman Asdrúbal Cabrera said. “The Cubs are a good team, but we were battling on every pitch and every at-bat. We feel really good about this one.

The Rangers took two of three from the Cubs despite their pitchers allowing 28 runs in the series. Starter Lance Lynn allowed seven runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings on Sunday, and Texas needed closer José Leclerc to enter a tie game in the eighth to help lock this one down.

“A win is a win, that’s the truth of it,” Lynn said. “I made a couple of mistakes and got singled to death. Everyone can say we need to pitch better and there are some things we need to work on, but this is the first three games and we won two out of three. The offense picked us up. There will be times during the season when the pitching picks us up.

The Rangers are above .500 for the first time since Sept. 11, 2017, when they were 72-71. The last time they started 2-1 was in 2014.

The two rallies almost weren’t enough. The Rangers trailed 4-0 before scoring five in the fourth inning off Cubs starter Cole Hamels. Delino DeShields finished it with the first grand slam of his career, but it was a pair of walks by Logan Forsythe and Mathis at the bottom of the order that set up the big hit.

“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have even gotten to the plate,” said DeShields, who was hitless in his first seven at-bats of the season before going deep off his former teammate. “I think it was just staying with my approach and being consistent with it. I know I can play, there’s no doubt about it. Just keep doing what I have been doing. I was having good at-bats. It was only a matter of time.”

The Cubs stormed back with four in the sixth to take an 8-5 lead. But Mathis pushed the Rangers in the right direction with a home run in the bottom of the inning. Texas regained the lead in the seventh on a two-run triple by Nomar Mazara and Cabrera’s two-run home run, which just barely nicked the left-field foul pole. Cabrera was 5-for-11 with two home runs and five RBIs in his first three games with the Rangers.

“Unbelievable,” manager Chris Woodward said. “Going up and down the lineup, every guy had something productive today. It was awesome to watch. They all feel it, they all believe it. No quit. Fall behind, it doesn’t matter -- there is already a belief, it’s incredible for me to watch and it’s showing up in three games. It was awesome, a great game.”

The Cubs still wouldn’t go away, scoring two in the eighth to tie the game. That’s where it stood in the ninth inning.

After Gallo’s towering double, Shin-Soo Choo, pinch-hitting for Hunter Pence, advanced the runner to third with a grounder to the right side. That brought Mazara to the plate, prompting Cubs manager Joe Maddon to go to a five-man infield to cut off the winning run. But Strop bounced his first pitch past catcher Willson Contreras, and the Rangers’ never-say-die efforts were rewarded with an exhausting, exhilarating victory.

“I know we have great hitters,” Cabrera said. “One day it will be Gallo, the next day it could be Cabrera. Every day somebody is going to come and find a way for us. That’s what we are going to need.”

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.