ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Alexi Ogando seems to be wearing down already for the Texas Rangers.
Whatever is to blame, maybe the summer heat or the unprecedented workload for the right-hander, Ogando lost his third consecutive start without making it past the fifth inning in a 14-5 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday.
``I feel as strong, I really don't feel that I'm weak or I'm losing my strength to do my job,' Ogando insisted while speaking through a translator.
Ogando gave up eight hits and six runs, only three earned, while throwing 76 pitches over three innings.
The Mets led 3-0 after only four batters. Jose Reyes and Willie Harris opened the game with consecutive singles before Carlos Beltran tripled on a ball that bounced in front of a sliding Nelson Cruz and then ricocheted off the right fielder. Beltran scored on Daniel Murphy's sacrifice fly.
``Those guys swung the bats,' manager Ron Washington said. ``When they swung the bat, they found some spot for it to fall. ... Today, I think you've got to give the New York Mets credit for the way they swung the bats. ``
New York's 17 hits matched its season high while scoring more than nine runs for the first time in 102 games - since an 18-5 victory at the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 5. Rookie Lucas Duda matched a franchise record with three doubles while going 4 for 5 with four RBIs, and Carlos Beltran ended an 0 for 14 slide with three hits and three RBIs.
Mets starter Jonathon Niese (7-6) left after 5 2-3 innings for precautionary reasons because of a rapid heartbeat. He believed it was related to the heat and said he was OK after being checked out by the Rangers team doctor.
The game was played with the temperature in the mid-90s, only six days after Ogando left an afternoon game in Atlanta dehydrated after throwing 104 pitches over five innings.
Ogando's slide began June 14 at the New York Yankees, when he gave up six runs and six hits in only 1 2-3 innings.
Before the three-game losing streak, Ogando was 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA his first 12 starts.
``How many starts you get? 30? He had three (poor ones) in a row,' Washington said, dismissing questions about the workload affecting Ogando's performance. ``I hope he makes an adjustment in his next start.'
With the Rangers just short of the halfway point of their season, Ogando has already pitched 91 innings - almost 50 more already than last season as a setup reliever when he was 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA in 44 appearances.
``I know I have three bad outings, but (the workload) is definitely not the reason,' Ogando said. ``Because physically I think that I'm OK and I feel strong. That's not the reason.'
New York pushed its lead to 6-0 in the third after Willie Harris opened the inning reaching on an error by third baseman Adrian Beltre. Although Harris was eventually thrown out at third on a fielder's choice, on a comebacker to Ogando that maybe could have been a double play instead, the Mets scored three unearned runs.
The relievers weren't much better with eight consecutive Mets reaching to start an eight-run sixth off Dave Bush and Michael Kirkman.
Beltre and Michael Young hit back-to-back homers in the fourth off Niese to make it 6-2. Cruz added a two-run blast, his 18th, in the eighth.
It was Beltre's 14th homer, his second in two games after a 13-game homerless drought. Young hit his third homer in four games after hitting only three his first 72 games.
Reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton tried some tinted contact lenses to help him see better in the day. He was the designated hitter and struck out all four at_bats, the first three with the lenses. Hamilton is hitting .113 (6 for 53) with 21 strikeouts in 15 day games this season.
After Ogando was a setup reliever during the Rangers' World Series season last year, they put him in the rotation after expected No. 5 starter Tommy Hunter strained his right groin during the last week of spring training.
Ogando won his first two starts with 13 consecutive scoreless innings. He pitched at least six innings in each of his first 12 starts, allowing more than two runs only twice.
Ogando was an outfielder in Oakland's organization before being acquired in the 2005 Rule 5 draft by Texas, which planned to put him on the mound. But Ogando wasn't allowed into the United States from the Dominican Republic until last year because of a five-year visa ban related to marriage fraud and a human trafficking ring involving several Dominican players.
Pitching for a Rangers team in the Dominican Summer League, Ogando pitched only 81 innings in 41 games over three seasons. He didn't pitch in the United States until last year, when he threw a combined 72 1-3 innings, throwing 30 2-3 in the minor leagues before Texas called him up to the majors.
Notes: Hamilton ended his streak of 18 consecutive home interleague games with a hit. ... Young, who finished 3 for 4, has an 11-game hitting streak with multiple hits in the last four. ... SS Elvis Andrus was out of the Rangers lineup because of a sprained left wrist sustained Friday night. Manager Ron Washington said Andrus also won't play Sunday. That will be only the third time since the start of the 2009 season that Andrus missed consecutive games at shortstop.
The Associated Press News Service
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