It was a night of firsts for Texas Rangers pitchers.
Phil Klein allowed one run in his first major league start, Shawn Tolleson succeeded in his first career save opportunity and the Rangers beat the Boston Red Sox 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Klein said he was a little anxious a day or two before his start "but once you get that first throw in, or two, it kind of calms down."
His first pitch sailed wide and behind catcher Robinson Chirinos. But Klein (1-0) recovered to retire 11 of the first 13 batters and give up five hits in 5 1-3 innings.
"Gutsy performance by him to go out and face a ballclub that he's never really seen,' Texas manager Jeff Banister said.
Klein, called up Wednesday from Triple-A Round Rock, relieved in 23 games beginning last season. Now the Rangers bullpen is in flux. Banister told his relievers Sunday that they would have no definite roles. So on Wednesday, Tolleson pitched the ninth inning, his 123rd career relief appearance, in place of former closer Neftali Perez.
Tolleson gave up a one-out double to Mookie Betts then retired Dustin Pedroia before walking David Ortiz intentionally. Then he got cleanup hitter Hanley Ramirez on a hard grounder just to the right of second base for an easy forceout to end the game.
"To walk through the heart of their lineup, just a terrific job," Banister said.
Chirinos hit a solo homer that gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the third against Joe Kelly (1-3) and the Red Sox stranded eight runners in the last four innings.
"There were a number of times where guys squared the ball up and you'd see either someone running in the gap or someone was standing right there" to field it, Boston manager John Farrell said.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Elvis Andrus. Chironis then hit his fourth homer of the year. Xander Bogaerts hit his second of the year in the fifth for Boston.
Klein left with runners at first and second and one out in the sixth. Shane Victorino's single off Alex Claudio loaded the bases before Brock Holt and Bogaerts were retired. It was the third time in the series that Boston left the bases loaded.
Kelly gave up two runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in seven innings as the Red Sox (19-21) failed in their fourth attempt to reach .500 since they were 12-12.
A shift that put Texas 2B Tommy Field just to the right of the bag worked twice against righty-hitting Ramirez. In the seventh, Field caught an inning-ending liner. In the ninth he was in the perfect spot to field Ramirez's hard grounder for the game-ending forceout.
Banister said the positioning worked because of "our pitchers being able to make the pitches. If they don't execute the pitches, he doesn't hit the ball there."
THREE'S A CROWD
Ramirez drew an error when he fielded Leonys Martin's double off the left field wall then dropped the ball as he tried to throw it, allowing Martin to take third. CF Betts knelt in front of Ramirez to avoid a throw and SS Bogaerts stood about 10 feet in front and to the left of him.
"He picked the ball up and tried to throw it and it just slipped out of his hand on the exchange," Farrell said.
Rangers: OF Josh Hamilton went 1 for 4 Wednesday on his rehab assignment with a homer and three RBIs for Double-A Frisco in an 8-1 win over Midland. He is not expected to join the Rangers before a three-game series starting Monday night in Cleveland.
Red Sox: 3B Pablo Sandoval missed Wednesday night's game with a sore left knee after being hit by a pitch in the seventh inning of Boston's 4-3 win Tuesday night. "He's day to day," Farrell said.
Clay Buchholz (2-4) faces the Rangers after his longest outing of the season. He allowed one run and three hits in eight innings Friday night in a 2-1 win at Seattle but was not involved in the decision. He has a 4.93 ERA despite allowing three runs or fewer in five of his eight starts.