CHICAGO (AP) — It has been difficult to find a silver lining for the Texas Rangers as they struggle through more than a month of losing. Manager Ron Washington discovered one in a rain-shortened 5-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
Tyler Flowers homered and drove in three runs and rookie sensation Jose Abreu had two hits and two RBIs, as the Rangers lost for the 34th time in their last 42 games.
Monday night’s game was called in the bottom of the seventh inning following a 57-minute rain delay.
Nonetheless, Washington was encouraged by the performance of starting pitcher Nick Martinez, who lost his seventh consecutive decision. The rookie right-hander allowed five runs in five innings but showed flashes in the second and the fourth, when he retired the side in order.
“He’s got stuff, man,” Washington said. “He’s just got to learn how to use it. He’s got to learn how to minimize damage. When he learns how to take that deep breath, buckle down and minimize damage, he’s going to move forward.”
Martinez (1-8) didn’t disagree with his manager’s assessment.
“I did a good job of mixing my pitches and throwing them for strikes,” said Martinez, who allowed eight hits and three walks. “I was concentrating on not letting them score and trying to make the perfect pitch rather than attacking the hitter, but the small steps forward were going back out there and having quick innings.”
Flowers went 3 for 3 and lifted his batting average to .500 (7 of 14) against the Rangers this season. He scored two runs as the White Sox snapped a two-game losing streak.
Rougned Odor had a two-run homer for Texas, which has lost four straight.
Abreu, who has 86 RBIs, went 2 for 3 on a day when he named the American League’s player and rookie of the month for July. The Cuban slugger also won both awards in April and is the only rookie to win the player of the month award twice.
Hector Noesi (6-8) bounced back from a rough outing at Detroit in his last start – six runs in six innings – to allow one earned run and four hits in seven innings.
The Rangers scored in the first inning on Adrian Beltre’s RBI single and stretched the lead to 3-0 on the two-run homer by Odor in the second. Both runs in the second were unearned because of Noesi’s error on a grounder to first by catcher Robinson Chirinos. He dropped the throw from Abreu that would have been the third out.
The White Sox pulled within a run on a two-run single by Abreu in the third inning and tied it in the fifth on a leadoff homer by Flowers.
In the sixth, with the rain starting to fall, Dayan Viciedo led off with a single and Conor Gillaspie followed with a double to knock out Martinez. With the infield playing in, right-hander Nate Adcock came on to strike out Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza, but Flowers came through with a two-out single to drive in both runs for a 5-3 Chicago lead.
Rangers: Catcher Geovany Soto (strained groin) is expected to be activated for the series with the Houston Astros starting on Friday.
White Sox: De Aza left the game after the sixth inning with a bruised left knee after fouling a pitch off his leg. Right-hander Zach Putnam (shoulder inflammation) is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled when he’s eligible to come off on Friday. Putnam has a 3-2 record with three saves and a 2.35 ERA and is one of the few bright spots in the bullpen this season.
“He’s throwing tomorrow, so he should be available when his time’s up,” manager Robin Ventura said.
Right-hander Colby Lewis (7-8, 5.98) faces left-hander John Danks (9-6, 4.50) in the second game of the three-game set on Tuesday.