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September 22, 2013

Royals 4, Rangers 0 (F, 10)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Justin Maxwell launched a grand slam off Joakim Soria with two outs in the in the 10th inning Sunday afternoon, and Kansas City edged the Rangers 1-0 and dealt another blow to their playoff hopes.

The loss allowed Oakland to clinch the American League West and dropped the Rangers two games behind Tampa Bay and 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the wild-card race with seven games to play. The Indians are off Monday as the Rangers play Houston to open a season-ending seven-game homestand.

Tanner Scheppers pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and Neal Cotts got the final two outs of the ninth to send the game into extra innings. Cotts, a left-hander, returned for the 10th to get the lefty-hitting Eric Hosmer, who flipped a double down the left-field line.

Soria entered for his first appearance against his old team, and intentionally walked Billy Butler. That brought up Salvador Perez, a double-play candidate but also a .288 hitter, and the catcher reached on a single that a diving Elvis Andrus kept on the infield.

Soria retired Mike Moustakas on a broken bat popup to third base, then got pinch-hitter George Kottaras to bounce into a fielder's choice with Hosmer out on a force play at home.

Maxwell was next, and the trade-deadline acquisition from Houston worked a full count before crushing Soria's 3-2 offering over the wall in left field.

Alexi Ogando worked seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits, in his finest outing of the year. He threw only 77 pitches, but was removed to start the eighth because he is still lacking arm strength since coming off the disabled list for the third time.

Ogando worked quickly and efficiently, and a fastball that ranged from 93 to 97 mph was no match for the Royals. Ogando had thrown only 44 pitches through four innings, 57 through five and 67 through six on a day the Rangers were hoping he could give them 80 to 85 pitches.

The Royals managed to put their leadoff man on base in the second, third and fourth innings, pushing Maxwell to second with one out in the fourth, but each time Ogando quickly finished them off.

James Shields was only slightly less effective over eight scoreless inning, but he was especially tough with runners in scoring position. The Rangers were 0 for 5 in the first four innings, including three misses in the fourth after Adrian Beltre led off with a double.

Shields shook off the sting from a David Murphy liner that struck him in the right forearm in the third inning. After five warm-up throws, Shields struck out Leonys Martin but allowed back-to-back singles to Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus.

Alex Rios, though, grounded out to end the inning.

Rios started the ninth by striking out, but a wild pitch allowed him to take first. He stole second on the next pitch, sliding in just ahead of the throw from Salvador Perez. But Rios then ran into a double play, as he tried to tag and advance to third on a flyball to left field.

The throw from Gordon, who leads the AL in outfield assists, was in plenty of time to get Rios.

-- Jeff Wilson 

 

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