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Rangers bats stifled by Merrill Kelly as Arizona rolls to easy Game 2 win

(AP photo/Brynn Anderson)



ARLINGTON —  Jordan Montgomery wasn’t the best he has been all postseason, but he wasn’t bad.

The Rangers’ defense helped him out, turning multiple tricky rollers into outs.

Together, they gave the Rangers an chance Saturday night over the first six innings of Game 2 of the World Series.

But sometimes the other guy is just better.

Merrill Kelly allowed one run in seven innings, and Gabriel Moreno started the scoring with a fourth-inning home run as Arizona left Globe Life Field with a 9-1 victory and a spilt in the first two games of the 119th Fall Classic.

The Diamondbacks outscored the Rangers 7-0 in the final three innings.

“It’s a seven-game set,” first baseman Nathaniel Lowe said. “We’d be naive to think we’d run away with four in a row. That’s a team that really fights hard. It’s a resilient bunch over there, but we’re pretty confident in our group, too.”

The series resumes Monday night at Chase Field, where Max Scherzer will be the Rangers’ Game 3 starter. It’s pivotal game for the Rangers, who are 8-0 on the road this postseason but were 0-2 in the regular season in Phoenix.

Mitch Garver delivered the only Rangers run with a solo homer off Kelly to start the fifth. The only other two hits he issued were broken-bat singles by Evan Carter and Josh Jung, and the Rangers didn’t get their first base runner until Carter’s soft liner fell in with two outs in fourth.

The Rangers finished with four hits but did not draw a walk.

“It’s all about execution, and pitching will always be about execution,” said second baseman Marcus Semien, who singled in the ninth. “He kept it out of the middle of the zone, where we like to hit it. We’re going to have to do a little bit more just to get to those pitches next time.”

Arizona broke through in the fourth as Gabriel Moreno connected for a solo shot with one out and as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. delivered a two-out single that scored Tommy Pham after the second of his four hits.

But Arizona lead only 2-1 when Montgomery came back for the seventh inning. He issued a double and a single, leading to the third Arizona run, and that was it for the left-hander. Though he threw only 75 pitches, Montgomery surrendered nine hits and did not record a strikeout, which might suggest he hadn’t fully recovered from his relief outing Monday in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

His velocity was down slightly.

“I don’t know how much it affected him, but he’s not saying it did,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You look at the man. He’s got the ability to pitch if it’s down a tick, and he showed that tonight.”

The Diamondbacks scored two more in the seventh, both charged to Montgomery, and tallied three in the eighth and two in the ninth to put the game out of reach.

Kelly, though, took the starch out of the Rangers’ bats and the capacity crowd of 42,500. He struck out nine and didn’t issue a walk, and he limited the first four Rangers batters — Semien, Corey Seager, Carter and Adolis Garcia — to one hit in 12 at-bats.

“A lot of his pitches look really similar,” first baseman Nathaniel Lowe said. “He’s just had it going tonight. He wasn’t missing a lot of spots, he was on the edge, he was ahead in the count, and that’s how you pitch.”

The Rangers are traveling Saturday to Phoenix, and they will hold an evening workout at Chase Field. They have until 7:03 p.m. Monday to put their Game 2 loss behind them.

“Every single loss in the big leagues, that’s definitely the plan,” Semien said. “It is a World Series this loss and nobody wants to be in this situation, but what else can you do? We have a day off to rejuvenate the bodies and come back strong.”

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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