BOSTON (AP) – Kameron Loe and the Texas Rangers are midway through the season, and they actually have something to look forward to.
Loe won his fourth consecutive start following a miserable first two months, and Rangers All-Star Michael Young had a pair of hits on Sunday to lead the Texas Rangers over the Boston Red Sox 2-1.
“It’s very big to finish the first half on a positive note,” said Loe, who won just one of his first 15 starts but hasn’t lost since a brief trip to the minors. “We struggled a lot and it was frustrating. Now that we’re putting wins together, it’s very big going into the All-Star break.”
Loe (5-6) had a 7.40 ERA when he was sent to Triple-A on June 7, but he didn’t even pitch there. When he returned to the Rangers on June 14, he tinkered with his arm angle and has posted a 1.95 ERA since.
He allowed one run, six hits and two walks in six innings to give the Rangers their eighth win in 11 games.
“If our starting pitching continues to perform like it has, there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” manager Ron Washington said.
Eric Gagne entered with two outs in the eighth when Akinori Otsuka left with stiffness in his right forearm after covering first base on Jason Varitek’s grounder. Although Gagne had the right to as many warmup pitches on the field mound as he needed, he continued to throw in the bullpen while the umpires waved futilely for him to come onto the diamond.
“I’m used to a routine coming out of the bullpen,” Gagne said. “There’s 40,000-50,000 people yelling at you, so the adrenaline kicks in quicker. You think you’re ready, but your body’s not where it should be. So today I wasn’t sure where I had to warm up.”
It was his first appearance in the eighth inning – and his longest outing – this season. He retired Alex Cora on a soft groundout to second, then pitched a hitless ninth for his 10th save. Gagne had not gone more than three outs since 2004.
“That’s the first time he’s had to do anything like that, come in a game like that. He’s usually out at the start of an inning,” said Washington, who added that he might have to stay away from both Otsuka and Gagne on Monday. “I had no choice, really. Just trying to save the game right there.”
Julian Tavarez (5-6) was charged with two runs – one earned – seven hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings. The Red Sox lost for the fifth time in six games; they have totaled eight runs in their last four.
“You go in cycles where it seems like scoring runs is very difficult,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “You go through times when it seems like you’re whacking it all over the ballpark. We’ll straighten it up and we’ll put a bunch up.”
Young, Texas’ lone representative for the All-Star game, will make his fourth appearance.
“It’s very humbling, considering how many great players haven’t had the opportunity to go,” he said. “I didn’t have the strongest start in the world, but I have rebounded and I feel decent about where my season is headed. I would love to go every year in my career.”
Texas took the lead in the fourth when Sammy Sosa singled and came around on back-to-back errors by Cora at shortstop and right fielder J.D. Drew. Boston tied it in the fifth on Kevin Youkilis’ RBI single, then gave the lead back in the sixth.
Frank Catalanotto walked to lead off the inning and, one out later, scored on Brad Wilkerson’s double to make it 2-1.
Notes: It was the third one-run game of the series. … Red Sox SS Julio Lugo was not in the starting lineup for the third consecutive game, though he did enter the game in the ninth as a pinch runner. He was thrown out attempting to steal third base on Saturday night, his first caught stealing in 21 attempts, ending a club record for consecutive stolen bases. … The Rangers went 14-12 in June after a 9-20 May. It was the first time since 1979 they followed a 20-loss month with a winning record. … Gagne has not allowed a run in 12 road appearances this season.