ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Alexi Ogando's breakout season has hit a wall.
The Rangers right-hander failed to get out of the third inning in his 26th start of the season and AL West-leading Texas was beaten by James Shields and the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 on Wednesday night.
Ogando (12-7) won his first seven decisions this season and made the All-Star team after being converted from reliever to starter during spring training. But he's dropped four of his last six decisions after lasting only 2 2-3 innings against the Rays, allowing three runs and five hits.
The innings are piling up for Ogando. He's thrown 154 this season after logging 73 1-3 last year out of the bullpen for the Rangers and two minor league teams.
Ogando insists that his right arm isn't wearing down.
``I feel like these last outings, I've been losing the strike zone,' Ogando said through a translator. ``I feel good physically, but I don't have that feeling for the strike zone. I'm confused. My body feels good but my arm doesn't do what I want it to.'
Manager Ron Washington said Ogando's downfall wasn't a tired arm.
``He got the ball up,' Washington said. ``It's obvious they can hit balls up in the zone. Good velocity, good breaking ball, just getting it up and obviously they didn't miss.'
Washington said there was no immediate plan to pull Ogando from the rotation. Ogando's next scheduled start is Monday at Tampa Bay.
``As of right now, he'll be gettting the ball,' Washington said.
Shields pitched eight shutout innings, and Johnny Damon homered to lead the Rays.
Shields had struggled in his three previous road starts against Texas, going 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA while yielding 22 hits and five homers.
Not this time.
Shields (13-10) allowed four hits, walked one and struck out seven, giving him 1,001 for his career and 199 this season. He threw 110 pitches before Kyle Farnsworth finished Tampa Bay's 10th victory in the last 15 games.
``This was the best I've pitched in this ballpark,' Shields said. ``It's nice to pitch well here.'
David Murphy hit a two-out RBI single for Texas in the ninth, but Farnsworth struck out Yorvit Torrealba to end the game.
Shields escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first when Mike Napoli grounded into a double play. The right-hander then retired the next 14 batters, a streak that ended when Elvis Andrus tripled with two out in the sixth.
No big deal - Shields promptly struck out Josh Hamilton to end the inning, leaving Andrus on third.
``When you get a guy like that on the ropes, you want to deliver something,' Washington said of his team's squandered opportunities.
The Rangers, losers of five of eight, made a couple of trades earlier Wednesday to strengthen their roster, acquiring reliever Mike Gonzalez and bringing back catcher Matt Treanor.
But Shields spoiled the night for the Rangers with a dominant performance.
``After the first inning when we didn't get him, he started pitching,' Washington said. ``He did a great job ... changed speeds, kept us off balance.'
The Rays struck for two runs in the second. John Jaso had a bloop RBI single and Desmond Jennings forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk.
Matt Joyce knocked out Ogando with an RBI single in the third, and Damon connected against Koji Uehara in the seventh for his 14th homer.
NOTES: Gonzalez was 2-2 with a 4.27 ERA in 49 relief appearances this season for Baltimore, which traded the Texas native to the Rangers for a player to be named. Treanor was with the Rangers last season when they won their first AL pennant and he set a career high with 82 games played. Texas traded him to Kansas City at the end of spring training for cash, then got him back from the Royals for cash. ... The Rangers plan to activate 3B Adrian Beltre from the 15-day disabled list and insert him into the lineup on Thursday night. Beltre has been on the DL since July 23 with a strained left hamstring. ...The Rangers will start LHP C.J. Wilson (13-6) in Thursday night's series finale against RHP Jeff Niemann (9-5). ... Texas LHP Matt Harrison, scheduled to start Sunday in Boston, retired the Rays in order in the fifth and sixth in his first relief appearance of the season. Harrison's turn in the rotation was skipped in favor of Scott Feldman, and Wednesday night's outing took the place of a bullpen session. ... Texas RHP Mark Hamburger pitched a perfect ninth in his major league debut.
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