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Bullpen provides four scoreless innings

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Once the offense gave Texas the lead,
the Rangers' relievers made sure they sealed the win.

Kevin Mench hit a go-ahead home run in the fifth inning and the bullpen followed with four scoreless innings to lead the Rangers to a 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday night.

"The key is the whole bullpen," said Francisco Cordero, who saved his 35th game in 37 chances. "It's not like I just come in the ninth and we win. They have to go through a lot of guys first."

Doug Brocail (2-1) relieved starter Mike Bacsik to the start the
fifth inning and allowed two unearned runs that tied the score
5-all but got the win. Then, Brian Shouse, Frank Francisco, Carlos
Almanzar and Cordero combined on four innings of one-hit relief,
with Cordero getting three outs for his 15th straight save.

"Our bullpen has the been the backbone of this team all year,"
Mench said.

Texas catcher Gerald Laird threw out Carl Crawford on an
attempted steal of second base to end the game.

"I was trying to get in scoring position," said Crawford, who
leads the American League with 47 stolen bases. "I got a good
jump. He just a made a great throw to get me out."

Mench's homer off Franklin Nunez (0-1) scored the decisive run
for Texas, which remained 1½ games behind Oakland in the AL West
one game back of Boston in the wild-card race.

Mench has a career-best 16 home runs for Rangers, who have hit
just .210 over the last 27 games.

"We're not going to have 15 or 20 hits every night," Mench
said. "We had some guys get key hits with guys in scoring
position."

Nunez, a 27-year-old right-hander, made his major league debut
for Tampa Bay, which has lost 14 of its last 15 road games. The
Devil Rays, 1-5 on their seven-game trip, have lost five straight
games overall and are 14-25 since moving a season-high two games
over .500 at 40-38 on July 3.

Bacsik gave up three runs and seven hits in four innings, while
Tampa Bay's John Halama allowed five runs and five hits in 3 2-3
innings.

"Our starting pitcher wasn't too sharp," Tampa Bay manager Lou
Piniella said. "But he was pitching against a tough lineup in a
good hitters' park."

Aubrey Huff and Jose Cruz Jr. hit RBI singles to put the Devil
Rays ahead in the first.

Tampa Bay had the chance to score more in first as it loaded the
bases with one out. But Jorge Cantu struck out and Toby Hall
bounced out to end the threat.

"We had our chances," Piniella said. "We just weren't able to
close the deal."

Texas went ahead in the second on Brian Jordan's two-run double
and Gerald Laird's sacrifice fly. Tino Martinez's RBI groundout
tied it 3-all in the third.

Gary Matthews Jr. homered leading off the fourth and Michael
Young added an RBI triple, but Tampa Bay tied it again in the fifth
after third baseman Herbert Perry's throwing error was followed by
Aubrey Huff's sacrifice fly and Cantu's RBI single.

Game notes
Texas 3B Hank Blalock was not in the starting lineup, but
pinch hit for Perry in the fifth and remained in the game. ...
Tampa Bay placed OF Rocco Baldelli on the 15-day DL with a strained
right quadriceps. ... OF Joey Gathright was called up from Triple-A
Durham. ... Texas 2B Alfonso Soriano had his 10-game hitting streak
snapped. He was 0-for-5. ... The Devil Rays are 5-14 against the AL
West.