The Rangers look for a ninth win in 10 games and struggling starter Nick Tepesch will try to extend the Reds' offensive woes in Saturday night's matchup in Arlington.
Texas starters are 5-0 with a 2.91 ERA over the last nine games. The Rangers (47-33) have a 2.01 ERA over their last six, winning five times despite scoring more than four runs just once.
Tepesch (3-6, 4.60 ERA) will seek to continue this scoreless run, which includes Thursday's 2-0 victory over the Yankees and a 4-0 win Friday in the opener of this three-game set. The rookie, however, is 0-3 with a 5.17 ERA in seven outings since beating Houston on May 12.
The right-hander took a step in the right direction Sunday in St. Louis, surrendering one run in 5 2-3 innings in a 2-1 victory at St. Louis.
"That's what you were working for and I've still got a lot of work to do," said Tepesch, who has never faced the Reds.
He'll face a struggling offense that went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position Friday. The Reds (45-35) are losers of three straight and six of seven, batting .215 in that span, and have dropped eight in a row on the road in interleague play dating to 2012.
"We're not doing anything. It seems like we're not putting any ABs together. We get a hit, then we make an easy out," shortstop Zack Cozart said. "They say hitting's contagious when you're going well, but it's not contagious, too, when everybody's not hitting."
The anemic offense is a major reason there will be pressure on starter Mike Leake , who also will be tasked with providing some innings after Friday's starter, Johnny Cueto , left in the second inning due to tightness in his right upper back muscle.
Leake (7-3, 2.61) is 5-0 with a 1.09 ERA in his last six road starts. His five-start road win streak ended last Saturday even though he retired the first 17 batters and yielded two runs over eight innings at Arizona, with closer Aroldis Chapman failing to protect a ninth-inning lead in a 4-3 loss.
Leake is 2-2 with a 2.27 ERA in nine interleague starts, including 1-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three on the road. The right-hander has never faced the Rangers, and the only Texas hitters he has faced are backup catcher Geovany Soto (1 for 12 against him) and Lance Berkman (1 for 11).
It's unclear if Berkman will be available. He sat out Friday with a sore right knee suffered from slipping on the team plane the previous day.
"Before I knew it, I was on my back kind of like a hurdler's stretch," Berkman told the Rangers' official website. "That's how I ended up. Thank goodness I had a hold of the hand rail or else I might've broken my neck, because I could've tumbled down the stairs."
Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips had two hits in his return to the lineup Friday after missing two games due to paternity leave.
|June 28, 2013||Johnny Cueto||Day-to-Day||Left game - tight right lat|
|June 14, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor mass strain|
|June 01, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|June 01, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|May 21, 2013||Sean Marshall||15-Day DL||Sprained left shoulder|
|April 28, 2013||Chris Heisey||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|June 21, 2013||Craig Gentry||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|June 13, 2013||Jeff Baker||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
|June 07, 2013||Nelson Cruz||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 07, 2013||Michael Kirkman||60-Day DL||Cutaneous lymphoma in right triceps|
|June 06, 2013||Alexi Ogando||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 06, 2013||Mitch Moreland||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Shin-Soo Choo got the Cincinnati Reds started with a home run on the first pitch of the game Saturday night.
Devin Mesoraco 's two-run homer in the 11th inning gave the Reds a 6-4 victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers .
The Reds can forget about that defensive debacle in between, three errors in the third inning that led to three unearned runs for Texas and likely took a victory away from starter Mike Leake .
"We made a bunch of mistakes, but they kept fighting and fighting, and that's all that matters that we got a win," manager Dusty Baker said. "I looked up there and they had one hit and three runs - that's rare to see that. Usually Joey (Votto) doesn't make errors, Zack (Cozart) doesn't make errors. It's one of those nights."
The Reds and Rangers both played their 81st game, reaching the midpoint of the regular season. Texas (47-34) has a half-game lead over Oakland while Cincinnati (46-35) is is in third place in the NL Central, a season-high 4 1/2 games behind division-leading Pittsburgh.
J.J. Hoover (1-5) got the last two outs in the 10th, even after a walk and a hit. Aroldis Chapman worked the 11th for his 20th save in 23 chances.
With runners at first and third for Texas in the 10th, Adrian Beltre had an inning-ending foul pop caught by catcher Mesoraco.
A.J. Pierzynski drew a leadoff walk in the 11th, but Mitch Moreland - whose deep flyball leading off the bottom of the ninth was caught by right fielder Jay Bruce against the wall - then grounded into a double play.
Cincinnati had lost six of seven games overall and was coming off consecutive shutout losses before Choo's fifth leadoff homer this season, and 12th overall. The Reds had also lost five consecutive interleague games.
"Every streak starts with one. You got to get one before you get 10, six or whatever it is," Baker said. "I think one game can get you going. And the way you win it gets you going sometimes too."
Mesoraco was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts before his 380-foot homer into the left-field seats off Kyle McClellan (0-1), which came right after Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch to start the 11th.
"Baseball's a crazy game. I think sometimes when you're struggling you try harder, but in reality you try less just because if you're going up there and you're grinding and you're trying to get a hit, most of the time you're not going to do it," Mesoraco said. "I think it's just a matter of going up there, relaxing and staying within yourself."
Leake allowed only three hits and one earned run in seven innings. But Cincinnati had three errors in the third when Texas scored three unearned runs.
"He's thrown the ball as well as anybody in the league and he really deserved better than what he got," Mesoraco said.
The Rangers had only one hit before consecutive doubles by Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz to start the sixth for a 4-all tie.
"We had one hit for a long time and three runs, so they kind of gave us three runs," Pierzynski said. "Their pitcher did a great job keeping us off balance and we had a couple of chances we didn't cash in. We did cash in a couple that we shouldn't have, so it evens out."
Two of Cincinnati's three errors came on fielder's choice plays that produced runs as Texas went ahead 3-2 in the third.
All-Star first baseman Votto made two errors, the first when he was unable to pick up the ball after a grounder hit off the heel of his glove. Leonys Martin , the No. 9 hitter, followed with a single to extend his hitting streak to 13 games before consecutive fielder's choice plays.
Votto made a nifty backhanded stop of Ian Kinsler 's grounder, but he threw wide of home unsuccessful trying to get a runner. The throwing error allowed other runners to advance to second and third before Andrus hit a RBI grounder to shortstop Cozart.
With Kinsler also running, Cozart's wide throw forced third baseman Jack Hannahan to reach away from the bag for the third Cincinnati error in four batters. Kinsler stopped momentarily before jumping onto the bag and avoiding the tag. Cruz then had a sacrifice fly.
After going 1 for 19 his previous six games, Choo hit the first pitch into the visitors bullpen in left-center field. That snapped a stretch of 20 consecutive scoreless innings by Texas pitchers that included a 4-0 victory in the series opener Friday night.
Choo walked twice and had three hits, including a leadoff single in the ninth before he was caught stealing to end that inning.
Texas rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch struck out seven, but was gone after allowing three consecutive hits to start the fifth.
NOTES: The Reds got an unearned run in the top of the third when Derrick Robinson reached on an error by second baseman Jurickson Profar and scored on a bloop single by Brandon Phillips . ... Votto has 10 errors in 80 games this season. He had six in 109 games last year. ... Tepesch is winless in eight starts since his last win May 12 at Houston. He won his major league debut April 9 against Tampa Bay, but is winless in seven starts at Rangers Ballpark since.