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TEX@TOR: Napoli's homer pulls Rangers within one run

TORONTO -- After the Rangers' 3-2 loss on Friday night, second baseman Ian Kinsler was asked if there was an explanation for why they had so much trouble with Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil.

"No," Kinsler said.

He was also asked if Cecil was doing anything special against the Rangers.

"Nope," Kinsler said.

Two outstanding performances in a row from Cecil were tough for the Rangers to explain, but manager Ron Washington preferred to point the finger at his own team. The Rangers' only two runs came on home runs by Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli. They were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, they couldn't get home the runners they had with less than two outs and they couldn't execute a sacrifice bunt.

That's what Washington pointed to after the Rangers went down on a humid Friday night at the Rogers Centre.

"The execution tonight wasn't there," Washington said. "It's the little things that can come back to haunt you, and they came back to haunt us tonight. That's why you never take fundamentals for granted."

Prior to this loss, the Rangers had won the first game in their past 11 series going back June 14 against the Yankees in New York. They still have a two-game lead over the Angels in the American League West.

Cecil's performance came five days after he threw a four-hit shutout against the Rangers on Sunday night in Arlington. This time, he went seven innings and allowed one run on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts. He did it with pretty much the same game plan: sink the fastball, use the changeup and get them to chase the breaking ball out of the zone.

"Yeah, pretty much," Cecil said. "We had our meeting like we always do when we have a new team come in. But we didn't even go over the lineup after that. They only had two new guys and obviously we've seen them all a lot in the last week and a half. So no, we didn't change the game plan at all. It worked before. I wouldn't see why to change anything. Just kept the ball down for the majority part of the game."

Cecil made two starts against the Rangers prior to this season and gave up 15 runs in a combined seven innings. But, like Kinsler, infielder Michael Young didn't have any great explanation for why Cecil suddenly looks like a Cy Young winner against the Rangers.

"I don't know of an explanation other than he threw well," Young said. "We had a couple of chances to push some runs across and didn't do it. We need to bear down on our fundamentals, get back to basics and get something going. Any time you have any kind of an offensive funk, you have to bear down on fundamentals."

Cecil beat Rangers starter Alexi Ogando, who gave up a three-run home run to J.P. Arencibia in the fifth inning. That was all the Blue Jays got against Ogando and reliever Tommy Hunter.

But one three-run home run beats a pair of solo home runs. Cruz gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the second with his 23rd home run of the season and Napoli hit one off closer Jon Rauch in the ninth.

The fourth and the sixth innings were the ones that stuck out to Washington after the game.

Young led off the fourth with a double and, after Cruz struck out, went to third on Napoli's single to left. That gave the Rangers runners at the corners, but Cecil got Mitch Moreland on a popup to the catcher and struck out Yorvit Torrealba.

In the sixth, the Rangers got a rally going when Josh Hamilton and Young led off with singles. That brought up Endy Chavez, who had replaced Cruz in the fifth inning. Cruz had to leave with a tight quad muscle, so Chavez was called upon to bunt. But Cecil jumped on it and got Hamilton at third. Then Napoli popped out and Moreland grounded out to end the inning.

"It came down to execution," Washington said. "Scratching out the little runs that they're giving you can make a difference."

Washington was asked if he would have rather had Cruz up there swinging rather than Chavez bunting in the sixth inning.

"I'll let you answer that one," he said. Comments