Now, the AL West-leading Rangers will turn to a pitcher trying to stop his own slide when they continue a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.
After being demoted from the rotation on July 30, Roy Oswalt (4-2, 6.53 ERA) will fill in for Ryan Dempster , who will miss his scheduled start because of personal reasons. The Rangers didn't elaborate, except to say Dempster will rejoin the team Monday.
Instead, it's up to Oswalt to stem the tide for Texas (68-50), which dropped the series opener 3-2 on Friday, the team's fourth loss in five games.
Oswalt hasn't started since July 30, when he gave up eight runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 15-8 loss to the Los Angeles Angels . He made his most recent appearance at Boston on Aug. 8, yielding four runs and three hits in 1 1-3 innings.
His only career start against Toronto was a two-hitter in a 3-0 victory for Houston on June 12, 2005.
One day after scoring 10 runs at Yankee Stadium, the Rangers were held to four hits by six Toronto pitchers. Texas' normally potent lineup has scored only six runs in four losses on the seven-game road trip.
"We had some chances for a base hit to make a difference," manager Ron Washington said. "If we had made the difference with one base hit, it would have been our victory, I feel."
Friday's victory ended a three-game skid for last-place Toronto, which has lost 14 of 19 overall and six of nine at home.
Edwin Encarnacion continued the best season of his career with his team-leading 31st home run after missing Thursday's game with a sore wrist. He's batting .435 (10 for 23) in his last six games but is 3 for 24 (.125) with nine strikeouts lifetime against Oswalt."I felt good today," Encarnacion said. "I can do my swing 100 percent."
Carlos Villanueva (6-2, 3.12) looks to continue his run of solid outings for the Blue Jays.
He's allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his eight starts and completed at least six innings in six of his past seven outings. The right-hander limited the Chicago White Sox to one run and five hits over seven innings Monday but left without a decision in a game Toronto eventually won in 11.
Villanueva will want to be careful with Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton , who is 4 for 5 with a homer and a triple in their matchups.
|August 11, 2012||Mike Napoli||15-Day DL||Strained left quadriceps|
|August 05, 2012||Elvis Andrus||Day-to-Day||Left game - shoulder soreness|
|July 19, 2012||Colby Lewis||60-Day DL||Torn flexor tendon, right elbow|
|July 06, 2012||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Left game - Lower back spasms|
|June 26, 2012||Mark Lowe||15-Day DL||Strained right intercostal muscle|
|June 26, 2012||Mark Lowe||15-Day DL||Strained right intercostal muscle|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|August 12, 2012||Kelly Johnson||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
|August 11, 2012||Colby Rasmus||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
|August 04, 2012||Brett Lawrie||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|August 03, 2012||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Left game - rib cage tightness|
|July 26, 2012||Joel Carreno||15-Day DL|
|July 26, 2012||Adam Lind||15-Day DL||Mid-back strain|
TORONTO (AP) -- The Texas Rangers felt confident their bullpen would bail them out.
Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer, Joe Nathan converted his team-record 22nd straight save opportunity and the Texas Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 Saturday.
"We showed how good the bullpen is," Cruz said. "I don't remember the last time we won 2-1. It was definitely a good game."
Nathan broke the Rangers mark he shared with Francisco Cordero , who was successful on 21 chances in a row in 2004. Nathan, who did not speak with reporters, was the sixth pitcher of the game for Texas.
"His confidence level is just insane," set up man Mike Adams said of Nathan. "He's a good fit for our bullpen. He rubs off on all of us in the right way. We just try to follow his lead and do what we can to get him the ball."
Roy Oswalt started for Texas in place of Ryan Dempster , who missed his regular turn because of personal issues. Oswalt allowed one run and two hits in 4 2-3 innings, striking out five, walking two and balking twice in his first start since July 30.
"The first two innings he was sharp as a tack," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You could see in the third and fourth inning that he was starting to labor a little bit because the ball started coming up and he just started missing the strike zone."
Demoted from the rotation when Dempster was acquired from the Chicago Cubs , Oswalt wasn't pleased at being pulled one out shy of qualifying for the win.
"I've started 330 games in the big leagues, I don't think I need to prove myself," Oswalt said.
Robbie Ross worked 1 1-3 innings, Tanner Scheppers got an out and Michael Kirkman (1-2) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh. Adams pitched the eighth and Nathan closed it out for his 24th save in 25 chances.
"The bullpen has been throwing the ball really well," Adams said. "We've been keeping the boys in the game and giving us a chance to win."
Toronto lost for the 15th time in 20 games despite limiting the AL West-leading Rangers to five hits.
"Tough ballgame," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the third when Anthony Gose drew a one-out walk, stole second, moved to third on a balk and came home as Adeiny Hechavarria singled through a drawn-in infield.
A high and sunny sky played a role in Texas taking the lead in the fifth. Adrian Beltre led off with a fly ball to right that Gose lost in the sun, with the ball dropping in for a ground rule double.
"I just had a feeling something was about to happen," Washington said.
It was. On the very next pitch from Carlos Villanueva (6-3), Cruz hit his 19th home run.
"It was a changeup," Cruz said. "I was looking for something up, something I could drive. I think it was one of the few mistakes (Villanueva) made."
Villanueva (6-3) allowed two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings and lost his third straight decision.
"You can't say enough about the way Carlos continues to pitch," Farrell said.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with a trio of singles in the sixth, but Ross fanned Gose to end a 10-pitch at bat and maintain the one-run lead.
Toronto threatened again in the seventh against Scheppers. Hechavarria led off with a double and Rajai Davis singled and stole second before Colby Rasmus popped out. Edwin Encarnacion was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Kirkman relieved Scheppers. Kirkman escaped the jam by getting David Cooper and Yunel Escobar to fly out.
"I can't say enough about what Kirkman did," Washington said. "Those were huge outs he came in and got there, especially in the situation."
Kirkman has not allowed a run in any of his past five outings.
Escobar argued with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson after taking his position for the top of the eighth and was ejected for the first time this season. Mike McCoy came on to play third and Hechavarria moved from third to shortstop.
NOTES: Toronto OF Jose Bautista (left wrist) took batting practice before the game and will do so again Sunday before beginning a minor league rehab assignment. Farrell said Bautista could return as soon as Aug. 24, when the Blue Jays begin a three-game series in Baltimore. ... Rangers manager Ron Washington said Dempster will start Monday at home to Baltimore. RHP Scott Feldman , LHP Derek Holland and RHP Yu Darvish will all get an extra day of rest. ... Rangers SS Elvis Andrus was held out of the starting lineup, with veteran Michael Young making just his second start of the season at shortstop. Andrus came on defensively in the ninth. ... Toronto 3B Brett Lawrie (strained right ribcage) left his minor league rehab game after one at-bat because the field was considered an injury risk, a Blue Jays representative said.