Play the Texas Rangers and you want to get to their bullpen. You really, really want to get to their bullpen.
The Rangers have a very good rotation, their staff earned-run average of 3.73 ranking sixth in Major League Baseball, one spot behind the Dodgers'. Their bullpen, however, is one of baseball’s worst. Its 4.53 ERA and .263 opponents’ batting average both rank 28th.
It took awhile, but the Dodgers finally chased Texas starter Wandy Rodriguez with three runs in the sixth inning Wednesday to get into the Rangers’ bullpen. It should have been mission accomplished, instead of a 5-3 defeat.
The Rangers trotted out relievers Jon Edwards (6.35 ERA), Sam Freeman (7.27), Tanner Scheppers (5.89) and Keone Kela (2.30). And the Dodgers did absolutely nothing with them. The four relievers combined to throw 3 2/3 scoreless innings and hand the Dodgers their third consecutive loss to the Rangers.
Kershaw (5-4) ended with an interesting line in his six innings -- four runs (three earned) on five hits and a walk, with 10 strikeouts.
The Dodgers went fairly quietly against Rodriguez in his first five innings, wasting leadoff doubles in the first and second.
In the sixth, though, they suddenly owned the left-hander. Justin Turner led off with a single and Scott Van Slyke -- just activated from the disabled list -- hit a two-run homer into the left field pavilion. It was his third of the season.
After Enrique Hernandez doubled, Kershaw hit a rocket right back to Rodriguez. Pinch-hitter Alex Guerrero singled in Hernandez, the Dodgers had pulled to within a run and Texas went to its bullpen.
Which should have been nothing but good news, but just turned into a lot of zeroes.
The Rangers had better luck with Dodgers reliever Josh Ravin, who unfortunately picked up just where he left off Tuesday in Texas when he surrendered a walk-off homer to the first player he faced. This time Prince Fielder was his first batter and he immediately took Ravin deep for his 11th home run.