ARLINGTON -- The end summed up the whole evening. Ian Kinsler, in the game as a pinch-runner, was standing at second base with two outs in the ninth. The Rangers needed just one clutch hit, but Craig Gentry, facing closer Jose Valverde, hit a routine ground ball to second baseman Ramon Santiago and the game was over.
The Rangers finished the night going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and lost to the Tigers, 2-1, on Friday night at Rangers Ballpark. Texas starter Nick Tepesch took the loss despite holding the American League's top lineup to two runs in five innings. The bullpen was even better, holding Detroit hitless over the final four innings.
But the Rangers' only run against Rick Porcello and four relievers came on Geovany Soto's fifth-inning home run. The Rangers have hit a home run in 10 straight games, but they needed at least one hit or sacrifice fly to go along with it on Friday night and couldn't find either.
"Tepesch did his job," manager Ron Washington said. "We just couldn't deliver a punch."
The Rangers left eight runners on base -- six were stranded with runners in scoring position. This is the eighth game the Rangers did not have a hit with runners in scoring position and they have lost all eight. That accounts for more than half of their 15 losses.
"Anytime you lose a game like this, everybody is going to bring up the missed opportunities," designated hitter Lance Berkman said. "But we were getting those opportunities. You're not going to do it every time, especially against a good team like that with tough pitching. It was a tough baseball game. Their guys pitched well, our guys pitched well, they came up one run better. What are you going to do?"
Nobody had a right to be more frustrated than Nelson Cruz. Twice he hit into double plays with runners in scoring position. He did so with runners at first and second with none out in the fourth, when the game was still scoreless.
He did so again in the eighth against former Rangers pitcher Joaquin Benoit. This time the Rangers had runners at the corners with one out, when Cruz hit a sharp grounder right at Santiago for an inning-ending double play.
"That's where you want to be and when you want the lead," Cruz said. "There's nothing I can do. It's done. Tomorrow if I've got the chance, I'll try to get the job done again."
Washington gave credit to Porcello, who went 5 2/3 innings to get the victory.
"I thought Porcello was as good as I've ever seen him," Washington said. "He loaded up the strike zone with all kinds of pitches. We worked him pretty good. We had opportunities, but he made pitches and we couldn't deliver."
Porcello entered the game with a career 7.93 ERA against the Rangers, but held them to five hits and one walk. Leonys Martin had one of those hits, a one-out triple in the third. But Porcello retired Elvis Andrus on a soft line drive to first baseman Prince Fielder and struck out Leury Garcia.
It was just another opportunity missed by the Rangers.
"There weren't many easy outs tonight," Porcello said. "They really battled, fouled off a lot of pitches and stayed aggressive. This is a tough place to pitch, especially against that lineup. I just wanted to keep the ball down. If you stay down they can't hurt you as much."
Tepesch was able to match Porcello through four despite having baserunners on in every inning. One reason was Martin, the Rangers center fielder, who gunned down Andy Dirks trying to score on Miguel Cabrera's one-out single in the third. Cabrera was still the biggest headache for Tepesch and was instrumental in his team breaking through in the fifth.
Dirks led off with a single and went to second as Torii Hunter rolled out to shortstop. Cabrera followed with a double off the left-field wall to drive home the first run of the game. Tepesch then hit Prince Fielder with a pitch, Victor Martinez lined a single to right to load the bases, and Alex Avila hit a sacrifice fly to center to drive home a second run. Tepesch struck out Jhonny Peralta to end both the inning and his night.
"They definitely have a good lineup," Tepesch said. "I felt pretty good for the most part. I made a few bad pitches and I didn't get any quick innings. A lot of guys on base led to a lot of long innings."
The Tigers' pitchers had a lot of lot of runners on base and some long innings. But the Rangers couldn't take advantage. They outhit the Tigers, 8-6, and this was only the second time in 26 games the Rangers equaled or outhit their opponents and lost.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.