ARLINGTON, Texas -- Two days after being roughed up by the Red Sox, Frank Francisco helped the Texas Rangers knock Boston out of the wild-card lead.
Francisco bounced back from the worst outing of his career to pick up the save, Ian Kinsler homered and drove in two runs, and the Rangers passed the Red Sox in the AL wild-card race with a 4-3 win Sunday.
• This is the first time the Red Sox have not held one of the AL playoff spots on Aug. 1 or later since the final day of the 2006 season (Oct. 1) -- the last time they missed the postseason.
• Ian Kinsler homered to join Alfonso Soriano as the only second basemen in AL history to have a 25 home run/20 stolen base season.
• The Rangers had scored two runs in Dustin Nippert's previous two starts.
• Sunday is the first time since April 21st that the Red Sox do not have a share of the wild-card or AL East lead.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
Francisco pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to give Texas a half-game lead over Boston. Less than 48 hours earlier, the closer was booed off the mound after being touched up for six runs in Boston's 8-4 victory Friday night."I believe in my teammates," Francisco said. "I feel like we have a chance to win when they're out there, and they feel the same way about me."Kinsler, back in the lineup one day after he was hit by a pitch that ricocheted off his shoulder to his head, went deep for the second straight day and had an RBI single in the third that gave Texas a 3-1 lead.Dustin Nippert (4-1) gave up two runs and six hits as the Rangers took two of three in the weekend series. The right-hander pitched 5 2/3 innings to defeat Boston on July 22, his only other win as a starter this season.Texas, which also got a solo shot from Taylor Teagarden, went 7-2 against the Red Sox this season."Regardless of the name on the jersey, we have to go out and play good baseball," Kinsler said. "We've done well against them, but everything can change in a hurry."David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia went deep for the Red Sox. Junichi Tazawa (1-2) yielded 10 hits and four runs over five-plus innings in his second career start.Pedroia's 10th homer in the seventh inning cut Texas' lead to 4-3 but the Rangers bullpen held on. With Red Sox runners on first and second in the eighth, C.J. Wilson struck out two consecutive batters to end the inning. Francisco then finished for his 16th save."We have tons of confidence in Frankie," Rangers third baseman Michael Young said. "He's been consistent for us all season. It was good to get him back on the mound."Boston is closing out a run where it plays 15 of 19 on the road. The Red Sox are 7-9 in the stretch with three games left at Toronto.The Red Sox were not discouraged despite losing a series to its closest playoff competitor."Who says we can't reel off 25 wins in September?" Victor Martinez said. "If you feel like you're defeated by losing a series, that's not the right attitude to have."Ortiz homered leading off the second, his 17th of the season and second of the series.Kinsler responded with his 25th homer in the bottom half and Texas took the lead for good with two runs in the third. Josh Hamilton drove in David Murphy with a double and scored on Kinsler's single.The Rangers activated Kinsler on Friday after he missed 15 games with a strained left hamstring. The second baseman is 4-for-6 the past two games."The time off was a blessing in disguise," Washington said. "He's caught his second wind and it couldn't have come at a better time."Brian Anderson's sacrifice fly cut Texas' lead to 3-2 in the fourth and Boston threatened again in the fifth, putting runners on first and second with two out. But Nippert struck out Mike Lowell to end the threat.Lowell hurled his bat and helmet in frustration as the Red Sox struggled for a second straight game to get runners home. Boston was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and is 0-for-10 the past two games."They're pitching really well," Pedroia said. "They're locating the ball. Last year, there were a lot of balls out over the plate that you could drive."
Boston RHP Tim Wakefield (back strain) made a rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket Saturday night and allowed two runs and three hits in 3 2/3 innings. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Wakefield had a noticeable limp coming off the mound in the second inning. "Everybody thinks he can pitch," Francona said. "We don't know if he can field his position." ... Washington said C Kevin Richardson, who was called up from the minors Saturday, will make his major league debut Monday night against Minnesota. ... Red Sox OF J.D. Drew (sore groin) missed his second straight game.