PHOENIX -- While the numbers didn't show it after his last start, Randy Wells said he thought he was close to where he wanted to be this spring.
While it would have been easy to dismiss his claim after allowing three runs on six hits and a walk in four innings -- his worst statistical outing to date -- he responded with his best performance of the spring Thursday.
Wells allowed one run in five innings of work during the Rangers 6-2 win over Oakland, but he didn't make it easy on himself. The right-hander allowed one run while scattering three hits and walking four. He also struck out four and hit a batter.
"From the get go, I felt good," Wells said. "I was able to make a pitch when I needed to and it was nice to get out there, stretch it out and go five innings."
Wells had a scoreless outing under his belt until Josh Reddick hit a home run that barely cleared the right-field wall with two outs in that final inning of work.
The veteran right-hander interspersed quick work in the first and third innings with having to pitch out of two, two-out bases loaded jams in the second and fourth. The end result was an up-and-down performance that wasn't always smooth but likely good enough to keep him in the running for the open fifth starter slot in the rotation.
"I made it interesting. I know that," Wells said. "The four walks weren't ideal, but you have to be able to make the pitch to get out of those innings. When you get into those situations, you need to get out of them. It's a positive, but I'd rather not put myself into those situations."
"We don't want walks, but if you put yourself in trouble, you make pitches to get out of it, so then it's no big deal," manager Ron Washington added. "You don't always want to be walking guys like that though because you aren't always going to be able to pitch around it."
The fifth starter competition will continue to play out over the next three days. Dark horse Nick Tepesch will make his second start of the season during Saturday's split-squad game in Las Vegas.
Fellow contenders Robbie Ross and Justin Grimm will each start one of the split-squad games Sunday. Ross has had the most consistent string of quality starts among the candidates but had his most difficult outing the last time he took the mound. Meanwhile, Grimm kept himself in contention with his best outing of the spring in his last appearance.
Following the weekend games, there will be less than two weeks of spring training remaining, and the currently clouded competition for that fifth starter role may become a little bit clearer.