ARLINGTON, Texas (CBS4) — Alexi Ogando kept insisting he felt fine and wasn’t wearing out only halfway through the season for the Texas Rangers.

Maybe now everybody will believe him.

Ogando limited the Florida Marlins to two runs and five hits over 6 2-3 innings with a career-high eight strikeouts, ending the right-hander’s personal three-game losing streak in the Rangers’ 15-5 victory Friday night when Nelson Cruz homered and had six RBIs on his 31st birthday.

“Ogando never wavered from his confidence, and more than what we thought, it was about what he thought, and it’s obvious he kept saying that he was OK,” manager Ron Washington said. “Tonight, he went out there and he did it.”

Ogando (8-3), a converted outfielder who had never been a starter before this season, hadn’t pitched past the fifth inning in any of his previous three starts. He was 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA his first 12 starts before that.

“I never say that I’m tired, I never admitted that, never think that I’m tired. I always told you that I’m OK, that my arm is right and my energy is there,” Ogando said through a translator. “I’m new starting games, been learning every outing.”

He got plenty of help from the Rangers offense, which rebounded for a shutout loss in Houston the previous night to score a season-high 15 runs.

Texas got its first seven runs in 3 2-3 innings off Anibal Sanchez (6-2), who saw the end of his Marlins’ season record of 14 consecutive starts without a loss.

“He’s a better pitcher than that. You could see he wasn’t in tune tonight,” manager Jack McKeon said. “He doesn’t generally walk anybody. He got behind guys, walked guys, nibbled with them and missed with his breaking ball. This is a hitting club over here. You can’t mess around with them. And he killed himself, walking two leadoff guys. That’s like a kiss of death really. They always score, I don’t care where you’re at.”

Michael Young led off the second with a walk and put the AL West-leading Rangers ahead to stay when he scored on the first of Taylor Teagarden’s two doubles.

Beltre had an RBI single in the third before Cruz hit his 19th homer — a 412-foot, three-run blast over the Rangers bullpen in right-center — to make it 5-0.

After the Marlins intentionally walked reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton to load the bases with two outs in the fourth, Beltre hit a two-run double to right to chase Sanchez.

Andres Blanco led off the Texas eighth with his second homer, starting a six-run outburst that included a three-run triple by Cruz.

“It was a good birthday,” Cruz said, giving plenty of credit to Ogando.

“It’s not that easy and the way he’s been doing it is amazing,” Cruz said. “After three bad starts, it’s good for him to come back strong.”

The Marlins didn’t even have a baserunner until Hanley Ramirez led off the fifth with a walk. They got their first hit on Greg Dobbs’ two-out single that inning, though they didn’t score after John Buck struck out.

While Sanchez was getting knocked around, Ogando threw 29 of his first 36 pitches through three innings for strikes. Ogando struck out six while retiring the first 12 Marlins batters mixing all of his pitches.

Ogando threw 102 pitches, 75 for strikes, and really had no trouble until the seventh when Florida started with three consecutive hits to finally score against him.

Last Saturday against the New York Mets, Ogando gave up eight hits and six runs while throwing 76 pitches over three innings. He trailed 3-0 after only four batters.

He was dehydrated when he left his previous start after throwing 104 pitches over five innings on a hot afternoon in Atlanta. He gave up six runs in only 1 2-3 innings at the New York Yankees on June 14.

The losing streak had raised questions about whether he was wearing out and the Rangers had even discussed bypassing one of his last starts before the All-Star break. He has thrown 97 2-3 innings, already 25 more than he did combined last season in 18 minor league games and then 44 appearances as a setup reliever for the Rangers.

Washington said there are still thoughts about giving Ogando a break.

The only other loss for Sanchez this season was also in Texas, on April 10 at Houston when he gave up six runs and 13 hits in 4 2-3 innings in his second start. Sanchez hasn’t won since June 10 against Arizona despite allowing only four runs over 20 innings his previous three starts — all no-decisions in one-run losses by the Marlins.

Reliever Brian Sanches was done after giving up consecutive two-out RBI doubles to Hamilton and Beltre in the sixth that gave Texas a 9-0 lead.


(© 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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