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Carmona solid, but Tribe's bats quiet

Carmona solid, but Tribe's bats quiet

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CLEVELAND -- Fausto Carmona's face didn't show any signs of frustration following Wednesday's loss.

But after yet another solid outing without a win, no one would blame him for getting a little upset.

Carmona pitched well for the third straight start, but just like in the other two games, he was unable to get enough run support for a win as the Indians fell, 5-0, to the Rangers on Wednesday in front of 18,794 at Progressive Field.

"I want to win like everyone else," Carmona said through a translator. "But I'm happy that I've been able to keep my team in the game."

After an early June banishment to Arizona, Carmona has looked much more like the pitcher that won 19 games in 2007 rather than the more recent version that has struggled to keep his emotions -- let alone opposing hitters -- at bay.

And despite his first loss since being called back up July 31, Carmona took another step forward Wednesday.

He once again found himself in tough jams that would have unraveled him just months ago. But just like he has in the previous starts, he showed a new-found maturity that allowed him to limit the damage.

In the second inning, he gave up a leadoff double to Josh Hamilton, who then moved to third on a groundout by Hank Blalock. Jarrod Saltalamacchia then grounded out and Omar Vizquel flied out to end the inning.

"He did a great job of controlling damage a couple different times," manager Eric Wedge said. "His stuff was good again tonight."

In all, Carmona pitched six innings, giving up two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks. It was his second straight quality start and he now has a 2.65 ERA since returning to the Majors.

While Wedge stopped short of calling it Carmona's best effort of the season, he said he was impressed with his starter's improvement nonetheless.

"It's tough to judge, because they've all been a little different." Wedge said. "But I think that's probably a good thing. With his stuff, you know it'll go out and play if he pitches, and I think that's what you're seeing. He's a better pitcher than he was before."

The Indians had won Carmona's two previous starts while scoring a total of eight runs. But many of the runs came long after Carmona had handed the ball off to his manager.

This time, the Indians didn't score regardless of the pitcher.

The Tribe's best opportunity to score came in the first inning when Grady Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera led off with back-to-back singles. But the Indians were unable to score either runner and didn't do much the rest of the way against the Rangers' 6-foot-3, 255-pound right-hander, Tommy Hunter.

The Indians would get just two more runners in scoring position the rest of the way against Hunter (5-2), who posted a 2.23 ERA in nine Major League starts this season.

While Hunter was buzzing through the Indians' lineup, Carmona continued to dance his way out of a few early-inning jams.

But he finally tripped up in the third.

Carmona hit Elvis Andrus then allowed a double to Julio Borbon and a single to David Murphy to load the bases. With two outs, Josh Hamilton delivered the decisive blow, a double that scored Andrus and Borbon to give the Texas a 2-0 lead.

That would be all the trouble Carmona would get into the rest of the way.

"With Carmona, he has that turbo sinker, so you have to make him get the ball up," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He broke some bats and we found some holes."

The Indians remained in striking distance of their 14th win in their past 20 games, but the Rangers tacked on three more runs in the eighth off the trio of Jess Todd, Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis to seal the game.

"You have to try to keep the game at 2," Wedge said. "But I can't keep throwing the same guys out there every night."

Matt O'Donnell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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