ARLINGTON -- Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland called it sluggish. In his mind, that means not controlling the strike zone. Phil Coke wasn't going to dispute that description.
Coke struggled in his first game back since returning from the disabled list with a right foot bone bruise, as the Texas Rangers rolled to a 7-3 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Tigers (33-28) snapped a four-game winning streak and remain 1 1/2 games back of Cleveland in the American League Central.
"If sluggish was the word he chose, he's probably right," Coke said. "I didn't feel on."
Coke got through the first two innings with relative ease, but he quickly ran into trouble in the third against Texas (35-28). He gave up three consecutive one-out singles to load the bases.
Coke appeared to be on the verge of getting out of the jam, though, inducing a ground ball to third by Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry. But Don Kelly airmailed his throw home, gifting the Rangers two runs. Texas then added two more on a double by Josh Hamilton.
In hindsight, Leyland and Coke pinpointed where it all went wrong. It was the second single Coke gave up, as Rangers No. 9 hitter Chris Davis roped a shot to right. Coke had an 0-2 count, but he left a fastball in the middle of the plate instead of his desired location of down and in.
"When you put it on a tee down the middle, good hitters are going to hit it," Coke said. "And that's exactly what happened."
Added Leyland: "One pitch cost him his outing and that was the pitch to Davis. An 0-2 fastball right there, you just can't make those mistakes. I thought that was probably the pitch that hurt the most."
Coke, who fell to 1-6 on the year, surrendered single runs in the fourth and fifth before his night ended. He left after five innings, allowing six runs -- four earned -- on 10 hits with three walks and no strikeouts.
It was his roughest outing in more than a month and leaves him still searching for his first win since April 14.
Outside of Coke, the Tigers' offense also struggled. They were baffled yet again by a rising ace in Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando.
It didn't matter that in the first two games of the series, everything the Tigers hit seemed to find holes. Their hard-hit balls turned into extra-base hits, and their poorly hit balls turned into bloop singles.
After all, they scored 21 runs on 38 hits in winning the first two games.
But Ogando shut them down for a second time this season. He threw seven scoreless innings against the Tigers on April 11, and he came through with 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball Wednesday.
Detroit took an early 1-0 lead when Kelly belted a homer to right in the first, but that proved to be the lone run for the Tigers off Ogando.
The Tigers didn't have a baserunner reach third again until the ninth. They had a chance in the fourth with runners at first and second with one out. But Jhonny Peralta flew out to center and Avila grounded out to first.
Ogando went on to retire 13 of 15 batters, with only Victor Martinez reaching in the sixth and Avila reaching in the seventh -- both on errors -- before giving up consecutive two-out singles to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the eighth.
That ended Ogando's night, and Rangers reliever Darren Oliver ended the eighth-inning threat by striking out pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn.
"[Ogando] is throwing anywhere from 80-99 mph. He had unbelievable stuff," Avila said. "He's effectively wild. He'll throw two pitches and look lost, and then he throws one on the black at 97 mph or a slider for a strike. Not only does he have great stuff, but he can make the pitches he needs to."
The Tigers finished the night 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, with the only hit coming in the ninth inning. Austin Jackson had an RBI double.
"Ogando got some people on bags, but he was able to make the pitches when he had to," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If you look at the first three innings, I don't think anybody would have thought he'd have made it to the eighth, but he did."
Despite the loss, the Tigers head back home feeling good about going 4-2 on this six-game road trip through Chicago and Texas.
"That's a pretty good week for us," Leyland said. "You don't want to ever sound satisfied, but if we win four out of six on the road the rest of the way, I'd be very tickled."
Drew Davison is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.