Rangers' Koronka Outdueled By Halladay

John Koronka didn't surrender a hit until the fifth inning on Tuesday but still lost.
John Koronka didn't surrender a hit until the fifth inning on Tuesday but still lost.

It was John Koronka's birthday Monday.

There was no surprise waiting for the newly-turned 26-year-old Tuesday, as his solid eight-inning performance eventually went for naught during the Rangers' 3-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Ameriquest Field in Arlington.

Toronto starter Roy Halladay wasn't much for surprises either; his strong performance of 7 2/3 shutout innings topped Koronka's eight solid innings and sent Koronka to the dugout with his sixth loss.

"You take every start with the same approach," said Koronka, who gave up six hits and three runs, and tossed a career-high 108 pitches. "I try to go out there and not give up any runs, any hits, anything."

Koronka's stingy mindset was in full force as he retired the first 13 Blue Jays before Shea Hillenbrand's single in the fifth.

But solo home runs by Russ Adams in the sixth and Eric Hinske in the eighth proved deadly for a pitcher who hasn't received much offensive support during his rookie campaign.

"John was good," said Showalter. "It's unfortunate ... that shouldn't get overlooked."

Perhaps 26 isn't Koronka's luckiest number: He's pitched 26 1/3 innings over his five losses this season and has gotten just one run of support. It was the fifth time this season he had received zero runs of support.

Of Koronka's 100 innings this season, 26 1/3 have come against an All-Star lineup: Halladay, Seattle's Felix Hernandez (two starts), San Francisco's Jason Schmdit and Chicago's Jose Contreras.

The Rangers' bats did wake up in the ninth with All-Star closer B.J. Ryan on the hill. After singles by Mark Teixeira and Mark DeRosa, Ian Kinsler lined a ball to center that scored Teixeira to make it 3-1.

Kevin Mench then pinch-hit for Brad Wilkerson and lined out to second, and Rod Barajas struck out on an 11-pitch at-bat that would have ended the game, but the ball went to the backstop, allowing him to reach first safely and DeRosa to score.

Gary Matthews Jr. flew out to right to end the game.

"[Koronka] kept us in that game and gave us a chance to make that comeback in the ninth," said Showalter. "A lot of positives came out of this game. I like the way we battled back. Kinsler and Barajas had great at-bats against one of the best closers in the game."

Other positives Showalter claimed were Michael Young's 1,000th hit and seeing reliever Wes Littleton make his first Major League appearance. He retired current All-Stars Vernon Wells and Troy Glaus in the ninth.

"I had a lot of things running through my mind," said a smiling Littleton. "But I couldn't remember any of them because my heart was beating so fast. I thought it was about to beat out of my chest."

Taking positives could help turn a negative trend for the Rangers on their way to the All-Star break.

Just don't tell Koronka he's facing Johan Santana Sunday.