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Ross roughed up in return to Texas rotation as Darvish sub, Rangers fall to Rays 6-3

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ARLINGTON, Texas - Robbie Ross took another shot as a starter for the Texas Rangers with ace Yu Darvish sidelined by elbow inflammation.

The converted reliever looked a lot like the left-hander who lost his spot in the rotation nearly three months ago.

Ross gave up eight hits and six runs in less than five innings after striking out the side in the first, surrendering two-run homers to Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe in Tampa Bay's 6-3 win over the Rangers on Thursday night.

"I just started maybe being a little too fine and trying to pick around the zone instead of just going right at them like I was in the beginning," said Ross, who came up from Triple-A Round Rock to make the start.

Ross (2-5) started the season in the Texas rotation after spending two years as a reliever. He retired the first five hitters before reverting to the form that landed him back in the bullpen in May not long after giving up 30 runs — 23 earned — in 26 2-3 innings over five starts. His struggles eventually landed him in the minors.

"In April he started throwing the ball well," manager Ron Washington said of Ross, whose ERA was 1.00 after three starts. "Then he just hit a wall where he wasn't executing. Tonight was just an example of him not executing."

Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Odorizzi (9-9) retired the final 10 hitters he faced after Geovany Soto's first homer of the season, a two-run run shot that pulled Texas within 4-2 in the fourth.

He struck out seven in seven innings to help give the Rays their AL-record 18th consecutive road game without allowing more than three runs.

"He's swaggering out to the mound, and swaggering back in," manager Joe Maddon said of his 24-year-old pitcher. "The whole group is confident. They're not braggish about it, just businesslike in a confident way."

Odorizzi was the starter the last time Tampa Bay gave up more than three runs — the last home game before the 10-game trip that just ended with the Rays taking three of four from the Rangers. He gave up five runs in a 7-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 3.

Jake McGee pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 14 chances, getting the Rays within three games of the major league record for consecutive road games with three runs or fewer allowed held by the 1908 Cubs.

THE TWO-RUN BLOWS

Longoria's team-leading 15th homer was a two-run shot that gave the Rays a 6-2 lead in the fifth. Logan Forsythe matched a career high with three hits and put the Rays in front to stay with his two-run homer in the second. It came on an 0-2 pitch after Yunel Escobar reached with two outs on an infield hit when third baseman Adrian Beltre barehanded the slow roller but threw wide to first.

GOOD NIGHT FOR TEXAS BULLPEN

Rangers relievers Phil Klein, Roman Mendez and Alex Claudio combined for 4 2-3 scoreless innings after Ross' rough outing. Klein retired all eight hitters he faced with five strikeouts, while Mendez and Claudio each had a strikeout while allowing a single in an inning. Claudio, a 22-year-old left-hander, pitched a night after making his major-league debut.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: CF Desmond Jennings (shoulder) wasn't in the lineup for the second game after running into the wall Tuesday. ... RF Wil Myers (fractured right wrist) could return from a rehab assignment at Triple-A Durham during next week's series against Detroit.

Rangers: An MRI showed that Darvish's elbow inflammation is not a long-term concern, but there's no timetable for his return. He will miss at least two starts and will resume throwing when the tightness eases.

UP NEXT

Rays: Tampa Bay goes home to face the New York Yankees in the first of 32 consecutive games against teams currently in playoff contention. RHP Alex Cobb (7-6, 3.41) goes for his sixth straight win, opposing Yankees RHP Brandon McCarthy (4-1, 2.21 with New York).

Rangers: RHP Nick Martinez (2-8, 5.22) opens a weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels after snapping a 10-start winless streak by beating Houston his last time out. It was the longest such streak for a Texas starter since R.A. Dickey went 11 starts without a win in 2004-05

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