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08/09/08 12:07 AM ET

Offense can't pick up Mendoza

Rangers hurler struggles; bats stifled for third straight night

BALTIMORE -- The Rangers have suddenly stopped scoring runs, and their funk continued with a 9-1 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards on Friday night. The club, which arrived in Baltimore after 4:30 a.m. ET, has now lost three straight, scoring just two runs in its past 25 innings.

And while Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie gave up just one run in seven innings, Luis Mendoza, his Rangers counterpart, was gone after allowing five runs in three innings.

"We looked tired," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I'm not making excuses, because [Guthrie] threw a pretty good game, but that's the first time we've had it handed to us in a while."

This is coming from a team that scored seven runs per game while winning six of nine to start its last homestand. But everything seemed to shut down the moment David Murphy crashed into Yankees catcher Ivan Rodriguez on Tuesday and was lost for two to four weeks with a strained ligament in his right knee.

The Rangers have just 17 hits in their past 25 innings, and both their runs have come on solo home runs. Travis Metcalf hit his first homer of the season on Friday, all that stood between Texas and getting shut out for the second straight night.

"It's about time," said Metcalf, who had singled in the third for his first hit of the year. "All I have to say is it's nice to contribute to the team even though I'm still 2-for-80."

He exaggerated; he's actually 2-for-19.

The Rangers started the day without both Murphy and Milton Bradley, who has one pinch-hit appearance in the past 10 games while nursing a strained quadriceps. Brandon Boggs, bothered by a sore right shoulder, was supposed to start in left field but instead got the nod at designated hitter.

Then, Washington decided to give a day off to Ian Kinsler, who is hitting .202 since the All-Star break.

Washington also said that he wants to give both Michael Young and Josh Hamilton a break. Young is just 7-for-37 (.189) since suffering a small fracture on the ring finger of his right hand on July 28 against the Mariners. Hamilton came out in the seventh on Friday, when the Rangers were trailing, 8-1, to get a couple of innings off.

"We're just tired," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "It's tough not having Milton Bradley and David Murphy in the lineup. Those guys put fear in the opposing pitcher. That changes everything. We just need to go out there and try to put runners on the board as best we can. These are the dog days of August. They call it that for a reason. We've got to step it up."

Kinsler should be back in the lineup on Saturday, and the Rangers are hoping that Bradley will be able to return on Sunday.

"We're not going to score 10 runs every night," Young said. "Our offense is fine. Guthrie pitched a great game tonight; he's got great stuff. We have a good offense with great offensive players, and great offensive players usually pick each other up."

The Rangers have had to cover for their young pitchers, but they couldn't do that on Friday night. Mendoza (3-5) gave up three in the second and two more in the third, and now has a 7.50 ERA.

"[It was] one of those night," Mendoza said. "Nothing was in control. ... I felt good throwing in the bullpen. Then I took the mound, and I don't know what happened."

Seven Rangers rookie starters have made a combined 30 starts, going 8-10 with a 7.22 ERA. They still have three rookies in the rotation until Kevin Millwood comes off the disabled list.

"You ain't winning nothing on offense alone," Washington said. "You've got to pitch."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.