Meche Looking for More Run Support

By: AMY JO WALKER, STATS Writer
By: AMY JO WALKER, STATS Writer

The Texas Rangers have been playing well at home lately. They also have a good chance at continuing that success against the Kansas City Royals, who have struggled to score with Gil Meche on the mound.

The Rangers (52-66) go for their ninth win in 12 home games when they continue their three-game set against the Royals (52-66) on Wednesday night.

After squaring around to bunt on the first pitch he saw in the sixth inning, the Rangers' Gerald Laird hit a three-run homer, sparking a 5-3 win on Tuesday.

"I was supposed to bunt the runners over," said Laird, who is batting .235. "I had the chance to swing if they ran the wheel play. I decided to take a hack. I was 100 percent sure it was going to be a fastball."

Laird is hitting .481 (13-for-27) with three homers and five doubles during a seven-game hitting streak against Kansas City.

Michael Young homered for the second straight game for Texas and is batting .394 (13-for-33) during his nine-game hitting streak overall. He also is batting .387 (12-for-31) with two homers and two doubles during his career versus Meche (7-10, 3.95 ERA), who is trying to avoid losing five straight starts for the second time this season.

The right-hander - signed to a five-year, $55 million free agent deal in the offseason - is 0-4 with a 5.79 ERA over his last four starts, but also has gotten just two runs of support. He allowed two runs and seven hits over five innings in a 2-1 defeat to Toronto on Friday.

"I left a couple pitches up, gave them a chance to put it in play and they did it," said Meche, who didn't issue a walk and struck out five. "I haven't been making pitches when I need to like I was early in the year."

Meche lost five consecutive starts from May 19-June 9, again just receiving two runs of support. He bounced back by winning his next four decisions.

Meche is 4-7 with a 7.09 ERA in 13 career games versus the Rangers and has dropped five of his last six decisions against them. His seven losses against Texas and Oakland are the most he's had against another club.

Kansas City is trying to avoid losing five straight on the road for the first time since a six-game slide April 11-17.

Vicente Padilla (3-8, 6.69) is expected to be activated off the 15-day disabled list to start for Texas. The right-hander has been sidelined since June 22 with a right triceps strain.

He went 0-1 with an 8.25 ERA in six rehab starts for Double-A Frisco, including Friday when he allowed one run and three hits over 2 1-3 innings.

"We hope he throws well," Texas pitching coach Mark Connor told the Rangers' official Web site. "The minor league starts don't indicate he's back to where he needs to be, but those are minor league starts. Some guys don't pitch very well in those starts."

Padilla failed to get a decision in his last start for Texas on June 21, allowing four runs and 10 hits over four innings in a 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs.

In his only start versus the Royals, Padilla gave up seven runs and nine hits over 3 2-3 innings in an 11-3 defeat on July 28, 2006.


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