ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Jeff Baker had already homered for the Texas Rangers in the second inning, and they had the bases loaded when Ian Kinsler sent a drive deep to left field.
But Kinsler got only a single and the Rangers scored only once when the ball ricocheted off the 14-foot wall because of a baserunning blunder. And they didn't score again against the Chicago White Sox.
Chris Sale, who needed 49 pitches to get through the first two innings, faced only one batter over the minimum 15 the next five innings and the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory Wednesday night.
``The one inning, just seemed like there were people all over the place,' White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ``For him to come out of it only giving up two (runs) to that lineup, he kind of gutted through it.'
That mistake on the base paths certainly contributed.
The Rangers were within 2-1 on Baker's one-out homer, his third this season and second in two nights.
Mitch Moreland then walked before consecutive singles by Geovany Soto and Craig Gentry. But on Kinsler's long fly, catcher Soto was retreating to second base when the ball hit the wall and was almost passed by Gentry before finally scooting over to third.
``I read that ball bad. I thought it was going to top spin and come down quicker,' Soto said. ``I should have scored.'
Elvis Andrus then went from a 3-0 count to striking out before Lance Berkman's inning-ending fielder's choice grounder.
``He didn't read that it was going to be over the guy's head, and it ended up jamming up the bases,' manager Ron Washington said of Soto. ``He should have been halfway, there's no doubt about it. If he reads it properly off the bat, he's going to score.'
The AL West-leading Rangers, who have lost three of their last four games, have to win the rubber game Thursday to avoid their first series loss of the season. They are 5-0-3, the only team in the majors without a series loss this season.
Sale (3-2) struck out seven and walked two, needing only 61 pitches to get through the last five innings.
Addison Reed worked the ninth for his ninth save in as many chances this season, and 15th in a row going back to last season.
After retiring the first two batters he faced, Reed hit pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski with a pitch - on the right elbow protected by a huge pad he wears when batting.
Pierzynski, who played the past eight seasons in Chicago but hasn't started in the series because of soreness and bruising on his right side, was clearly unhappy about being hit. He flipped his bat away, said a few words and glared at the mound toward his former teammate while going toward first base - and even more after he got there.
``I'm sure he was just trying to pitch me in and it got away,' Pierzynski said diplomatically afterward.
Reed acknowledged he was trying to throw inside, but insisted that he didn't hear anything Pierzynski was saying.
``Listen, we ain't trying to put anybody on, with this lineup, you're not trying to send any message,' Ventura said. ``You don't want anybody on base because in about 30 seconds, they got the tying run to the plate.'
Kinsler then singled before Andrus struck out swinging to end the game.
Conor Gillaspie homered leading off the seventh to break a 2-2 tie and Alejandro De Axa added a two-run homer later in the frame to chase rookie right-handed starter Nick Tepesch (2-2).
``It was a bad decision by me. I just stayed with Tepesch one batter too long,' Washington said. ``I second-guessed myself. My intention was to go get him, but I just decided to go ahead and let me see if he could get out of it.'
After Berkman's two-out single in the fifth, Adrian Beltre struck out when he wasn't even in the batter's box. Beltre stepped back after requesting time and had his back to the plate when Sale threw the pitch called a strike by home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth, who didn't grant timeout.
Nelson Cruz drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, but Sale fielded Baker's comebacker to start a double play.
``We had a lot of opportunities to score,' Andrus said. ``But he's a good pitcher.'
Notes: Third baseman Beltre had a nifty play in the fifth when De Aza tried to bunt for a hit. Beltre barehanded the ball and was falling away from the field when he threw off one foot and got De Aza out at first. ... The White Sox had leadoff doubles in each of the first two innings, and turned both into runs. ... De Aza doubled to start the game and after was almost being picked off second base before scoring on a single by Alex Rios, who was picked off first for the inning-ending out.
The Associated Press News Service
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