Arlington, TX – A.J. Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland hit back- to-back home runs in the fourth inning and the Texas Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, on Monday.
Elvis Andrus drove in two runs and Adrian Beltre hit an RBI double to help the Rangers take the opener of this three-game set.
Texas starter Alexi Ogando (2-0) gave up one run on three hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. Joe Nathan allowed one run in the ninth but still picked up his second save of the season and the 300th of his career.
"They have a lot of guys on that team that have given me tough at-bats and tonight was no different," Nathan said. "It was the tough part of their lineup and they've seen me a lot in my career."
Jeremy Hellickson (0-1) allowed three runs on five hits and three walks for the Rays, who were coming off a 13-0 loss against Cleveland on Sunday. Yunel Escobar, Shelley Duncan and Sean Rodriguez had an RBI apiece in the setback.
Beltre doubled to left with two outs in the first, plating Lance Berkman.
In the second, Evan Longoria walked to leadoff the inning and Matt Joyce hit a single. Escobar hit a fielders choice to bring Longoria home.
Pierzynski and Moreland hit their home runs with two outs in the fourth to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead.
In the eighth, Desmond Jennings drew a leadoff walk from Michael Kirkman. After a fly out by Rodriguez, Zobrist and Longoria both hit singles, loading the bases. Derek Lowe replaced Kirkman but walked Duncan to give the Rays a run. Escobar then grounded out to third, but also brought Zobrist home, cutting the deficit to 5-3.
In the ninth, Nathan allowed a single by Jose Molina, who then stole second. Jennings hit a fielders choice advancing Molina to third. Rodriguez then hit a single into shallow center, plating Molina.
Zobrist was the next to bat, but he struck out on a controversial 3-2 pitch to end the game. The ball not only appeared low and outside, but the call by home plate umpire Marty Foster was delayed, prompting both Zobrist and manager Joe Maddon to argue the call.
"It was a tough time to have a bad call," Zobrist said. "I just hope it doesn't end up costing us the playoffs in the end. I know it's the first week of the season. But every win is important."
Lance Berkman walked three times ... Craig Gentry had a stolen base ... Pierzynski is hitting .500 and has a .917 slugging percentage in five games at home ... Longoria was a perfect 3-for-3 ... The Rays were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base ... Hellickson turned 26 years old, pitching on his birthday for the second year in row. Last year, his 2012 debut, he pitched 8 2/3 innings of shutout baseball against the Yankees.