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Napoli's solo shot cuts into White Sox lead

ARLINGTON -- May 13, 1997. That's the last time the Rangers had a worse game than they did on Saturday night as far as hitting with runners in scoring position.

They've only had six as bad as this in club history and they were just two at-bats short of matching the club record for single-game futility. That was reason enough for the hitters to have an unusual postgame meeting following a 5-2 loss to the White Sox at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Rangers finished the game 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position, their worst performance since going 0-for-14 against the Indians back in 1997. The worst in club history is 0-for-15 against the Tigers on April 30, 1980.

"It just tells you if we start swinging the bats with runners in scoring position, it will turn around for us," manager Ron Washington said. "That's what's killing us right now."

The Rangers were also 1-for-8 on Friday night and are hitting .187 in their last 16 games. In their meeting, the Rangers stayed positive and reassured each other that this can get turned around.

"Offensively we could be better ... that's it," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We know we're good. We know what we've done in the past. We know we've been the best offense in the league the past few years. We all know what it's like when we're clicking. We just have to get back to it."

The Rangers are not clicking right now. Starter Matt Harrison gave up five runs in seven innings and the Rangers have now lost six of their last nine games. They are also 6-7 since the All-Star break and lead the Athletics by 3 1/2 and the Angels by four games in the American League West.

"I think we're capable of more," first baseman Michael Young said. "This isn't foreign territory to anyone. We've all been down this road before. We know what it's like for a team to go through a stretch where you don't get good results and what it's like to make adjustments. So we'll do that.

"We believe in the guy next to us. We have a very high confidence level. It's a matter of just staying the course. Having good concentration and just competing."

The Rangers, going against White Sox right-hander Philip Humber, were without Josh Hamilton, who was given the night off by Washington. Leonys Martin started in left field in his place and was 1-for-3 with a fifth-inning double. He ended up being stranded.

"You take Hamilton out and feel like you'll get a little relief and it's not there," Humber said. "The young kid in there, Martin, he looked like a quality hitter. He hit a really good pitch for a double. There's no breaks and it seems like every at-bat is a battle, so I'm definitely fortunate to come out with a win."

The White Sox were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position. They beat the Rangers with the home run. Paul Konerko hit a two-run home run off Harrison in the fourth and Adam Dunn hit a two-run home run in the fifth.

This is only the second time this season Harrison has given up as many as two homers in a game. He had allowed 0.63 home runs per nine innings this season, the ninth lowest mark in the AL, and had given up just three in his last 85 1/3 innings.

"I felt great but it was just a rough start," Hamilton said. "That's the way it goes."

Things might have been different if the Rangers had been able to get some runners home but that was not the case. After Konerko's made it 2-0, the Rangers started their half of the fourth with a single by Adrian Beltre and a walk to Nelson Cruz. But Humber struck out David Murphy and got Young to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Mike Napoli led off the fifth with a home run and Martin followed with a double. Craig Gentry moved him to third with a grounder but Kinsler struck out and Elvis Andrus grounded out. Young tripled off Humber leading off the seventh and Napoli walked. But reliever Jesse Crain, protecting a 5-1 lead, stuck out Martin and Gentry and got Kinsler to pop up.

"Everyone's trying to do a little too much," Young said. "In those situations, they've got a four-run lead, so they've got the infield back. It's not like we had to bust it through a drawn-in infield. It's basically just playing pepper with an infielder and we get a run. We also had some hard hit balls with runners in scoring position. That's what I'm talking about. We've got to keep the focus on the plan and not necessarily the result."

Murphy did lead off the ninth with a double and the Rangers did get him home on grounders by Young and Napoli. That made it 5-2. The Rangers were way late though with their offensive execution.

"The key is getting [runners] out there," Washington said. "As long as we keep getting them out there, it will happen."

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