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Rangers slow down Rays, 'under' hits

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Nick Tepesch pitched into the eighth inning in his major league debut, Lance Berkman had a key two-run single among three hits and the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 Tuesday night.

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Tepesch retired 12 straight batters before hesitating to pick up a slow roller from Kelly Johnson that went for a one-out single in the eighth. The 24-year-old right-hander left to a standing ovation after Desmond Jennings followed with his second double of the game.

Tepesch (1-0) allowed four hits and a run with three walks and five strikeouts.

Roberto Hernandez (0-2) gave up eight hits and six runs - five earned - in 6 2-3 innings.

Berkman gave Texas a 2-1 lead in the third on a two-run bloop single that just eluded diving second baseman Ben 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 on a strike call that plate umpire Marty Foster later acknowledged was wrong.

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.

Rangers manager Ron Washington decided to let Tepesch start the eighth with a pitch count of 96. Tepesch would have retired Johnson if he had just picked up the ball along the first-base line, but hesitated just long enough to allow Johnson to reach.

Washington talked to Tepesch for several seconds before giving him a pat on the chest and signaling to the bullpen. Left-hander Robbie Ross kept Tepesch's line intact by getting Matt Joyce on a popout and Zobrist on a grounder with runners at second and third.

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.

Tampa Bay scored in the third when Jennings led off with a double that landed near Martin in right-center. Jennings went to third on a grounder by Joyce and scored on another grounder by Zobrist, who went 0 for 4 after he was at the plate for Foster's botched call Monday.

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.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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