Another Wood gem wasted, Braves lose 2-1 to lowly Rangers

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The young Braves lefty has pitched far better than is record shows, and again he

DALLAS – Since the Braves had totaled just 26 runs in their previous 11 games, and the Rangers had managed a meager 24 runs in their past 12, Friday’s interleague series opener didn’t figure to be a high-scoring affair.

And then there was the fact that Alex Wood was pitching for the Braves, virtually assuring they wouldn’t score more than two run while the young left-hander was in the game, no matter how well he pitched.

Sure enough, the Braves wasted another stellar start from Wood, who pitched seven superb innings before David Carpenter gave up a run on three consecutive two-out hits in the eighth to give the Rangers a 2-1 win over the Braves in a series opener at Globe Life Park.

The Rangers, who have baseball’s worst record and had lost 11 of their past 12 games, beat a Braves team that is still in the hunt for a National League wild-card spot but has hit barely .211 while losing eight of its past 12 games.

The Braves fell to three games behind Pittsburgh for the second wild-card spot after the Pirates won Friday. The Braves are also 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee after the Brewers won later Friday.

Carpenter retired the first two batters in the eighth inning before giving up singles to Adrian Beltre, Ryan Rua and Robinson Chirinos, a catcher who entered Friday batting .232.

Wood got no decision after giving up four hits and one run in seven innings, with two walks and nine strikeouts.

He’s only 3-2 in his past nine starts despite a 1.88 ERA in that span. He pitched six or more innings while allowing six or fewer hits in each of those starts, and while giving up two or fewer earned runs in eight of the nine, including one or none in five. He has a 2.46 ERA in 15 starts since returning to the rotation, and only five wins to show for it.

In his third start of the season, Rangers left-hander Derek Holland allowed eight hits in seven innings but only one run, with no walks and six strikeouts. The veteran has given up two runs and no walks in 21 innings since coming off the disabled list, after missing most of the season recovering from microfracture knee surgery following an accident in which tripped over his dog and fell down some stairs.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the third inning after consecutive singles from B.J. Upton and Andrelton Simmons to start the inning. Jason Heyward grounded into a force at second and hustled to avoid the double play, giving him an RBI. Freddie Freeman bounced a single up the middle to load the bases with one out, and the Braves did what they’ve done too frequently in similar situations.

Justin Upton struck out and Ryan Doumit grounded out to end the inning, stranding the runners.

They had another opportunity to add to the lead in the fifth after getting singles from Simmons and Heyward to start the inning. But Phil Gosselin struck out and Freeman grounded into a double play to end the inning and make the Braves 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position through five innings.

Six major league teams had a worse batting average with runners in scoring than the Braves’ .243 before Friday, and none of those six had a record within 10 games of .500.

Wood retired the first eight batters before Daniel Robertson’s two-out single in the third. He had faced only 10 batters through three innings before running into a fourth-inning jam that resulted from sudden control problems.

The Rangers had runners at first and second and none out after Elvis Andrus drew a leadoff walk and J.P. Arencibia was hit by a pitch. But the Rangers and Andrus, even though he’s a shortstop, might not have seen the Braves enough to be aware of a back-door pickoff move that they like to pull occasionally with shortstop Simmons.

Wood is particularly proficient at the move, and so with Beltre batting the left-hander spun and threw to Simmons, who tagged Andrus as he dove and reached back to the base with his hand. Wood struck out Beltre befor Rua doubled to left field, with Arencibia stopping at third rather than test the arm of relay man Simmons.

Another walk loaded the bases, but Wood escaped unscathed by inducing a ground out from Rougned Odor. He had protected the 1-0 lead despite facing six batters in the inning, walking two, hitting one and giving up a double.

Wood wasn’t able to pull off the feat again in the sixth inning, after a leadoff double from Arencibia on a hard-hit grounder down the third-base line. Beltre singled to put runners on the corners and Rua’s ground out drove in the tying run.