ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Ben Zobrist and the Tampa Bay Rays didn't have to worry about another blown call at the end of the game.
Texas Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch took care of that in his major league debut.
Tepesch held Tampa Bay to a run on four hits in 7 1-3 innings, Lance Berkman had a key two-run single among his three hits and Rangers beat the Rays 6-1 Tuesday night.
``For his first big league start, I was impressed,' said Zobrist, who was 0 for 4 but drove in the only run a day after he was at the plate for a game-ending strike call that umpire Marty Foster later acknowledged was wrong. ``He did a phenomenal job keeping it on the corners, mixing it up and throwing strikes.'
Tepesch was cruising along with a two-hitter in the eighth when he made just about his only mistake. He charged a grounder by Kelly Johnson but was unable to decide what to do once he got to the ball.
``I should have picked it up and thrown it to first, but the way it spun I for some reason thought it might go foul,' Tepesch said. ``Just kind of a bad decision, to be honest with you.'
A bad decision, perhaps, but one made amid a bunch of good pitches from Tepesch, a 24-year-old in his third pro season out of Missouri who won the No. 5 starter's spot in spring training while the Rangers wait for Colby Lewis to return from elbow surgery.
After a couple of shaky innings early, Tepesch retired 12 straight batters before Johnson's dribbler up the first-base line. When Desmond Jennings followed with his second double, manager Ron Washington visited the mound for a chat that lasted several seconds before he gave Tepesch a pat on the chest and signaled to the bullpen.
``Tremendous makeup,' Washington said. ``Trusts his stuff, knows what he's capable of doing. Never gets outside of himself. Those are the traits we saw in spring training.'
Roberto Hernandez (0-2) gave up eight hits and six runs - five earned - in 6 2-3 innings.
Berkman put Texas ahead 2-1 in the third on a two-run bloop single that just eluded Zobrist in right-center. Ian Kinsler scored from first after breaking quickly and getting around third just as the ball was landing.
Texas reliever Jason Frasor got Shelley Duncan on a fly to right for the final out, a much less dramatic ending than Monday when Joe Nathan earned his 300th save in a 5-4 win after Foster called Zobrist out on strikes on a pitch that looked low and outside.
``We lost the battle of inches,' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ``Berkman hits a softie to center. That's how the ball rolls sometimes.'
After a 1-2-3 first, Tepesch walked the bases loaded in the second, getting a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux after a two-out pass to Yunel Escobar. Tepesch walked Jose Molina after Maddux left, but struck out Johnson on three pitches, the last a 79 mph curveball after hitting 94 mph on a fastball to Evan Longoria earlier in the inning.
Jennings had a leadoff double in the third, but the Rays only got one run after consecutive groundouts from Matt Joyce, Zobrist and Longoria.
``Big league debuts can usually go one of two ways. They can either go really well or go really bad,' Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. ``Once he got out of the second and third innings, you could see it kind of relaxed him and we got him a lead and he really settled in and did a great job.'
Robbie Ross kept Tepesch's line intact by getting Joyce on a popout and Zobrist on a grounder with runners at second and third.
``Well, I guess you could have thrown a complete-game shutout, but other than that ...' Berkman said. ``That's pretty tough to beat. He pitched great.'
Leonys Martin, born the same year as Tepesch but no longer a rookie because of too much service time last year, had two singles and scored three times for the Rangers.
Martin started the seventh with a single, went to third when Kinsler was thrown out trying to stretch a single and scored when Elvis Andrus hit a slow roller up the third base line. Berkman doubled and was replaced by pinch-runner Craig Gentry, who scored from second on an error by first baseman James Loney to put the Rangers up 6-1.
NOTES: The Rangers are leaning toward skipping LHP Matt Harrison in the rotation Thursday at Seattle because of a sore back. He's still scheduled to start, but canceled a bullpen session Tuesday. ... Rays RHP Jeff Niemann said his decision to have season-ending shoulder surgery came after his arm simply didn't respond to a move to the bullpen. The former starter said it was difficult trying to get ready to pitch every day. He estimated the recovery time at nine to 12 months.
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