By Alan Eskew
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Chi Chi Gonzalez allowed one hit over five scoreless innings and John Ruggiano hit a pair of two-run homers as a Texas Rangers split squad defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 12-5, Thursday.
Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland and Ronald Guzman also homered for Texas.
Gonzalez, a 2013 first-round pick out of Oral Roberts University, gave up a double to Eugenio Suarez with two outs in the first. Gonzalez is bidding for the fifth slot in the Rangers’ rotation.
“I finally did what I was preaching,” Gonzalez said. “I finally threw more strikes, quality strikes, got ahead and got a couple of punch outs. Now it just gives me confidence to do the same thing, that I have the answer when I am doing bad. I performed well.”
Gonzalez allowed seven runs on eight hits against Arizona in his previous start.
Beltre hit a three-run homer in the third inning off Anthony DeSclafani, who allowed eight runs on four home runs in 5 2-3 innings. Ruggiano homered in the fourth and sixth innings, while Moreland added a solo drive.
“I don’t even know how to describe this outing,” said DeSclafani, who struck out six and walked none. “I felt good. I felt like I had pretty much everything working. The (home runs) might have been pitch selection. I’ve been trying to do a bunch of different things this spring as far as throwing different pitches in different counts. I stuck with that, but I don’t know.”
“I felt like I’m doing some good things. I had some good stretches and some bad stretches, but hopefully once the season comes it kind of gets put altogether,” he said.
DeSclafani, the Reds’ likely opening day starter, has given up 12 runs on 15 hits in 10 1/3 innings in his past two starts to inflate his ERA to 8.38.
Reds: DeSclafani missed touching the bag while covering first base on James Jones’ infield single with two out in the third. Two pitches later, he was down 3-0 after Rougned Odor singled and Beltre homered. “Those three runs shouldn’t have happened,” DeSclafani said. “I messed up. My fault. I missed it. That should have been the third out of the inning at first base.”
Rangers: Gonzalez retired eight of the 18 batters he faced on groundouts. “I was down in the zone a lot, that was a key,” he said. “I got that double play when I needed it (after a leadoff walk in the fourth), that was huge. That’s how I pitch is get groundballs, early outs. I did well. I threw the ball where I wanted it. The ball was moving well.”
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey, who is rehabbing from May 2015 elbow surgery, threw 30 pitches to batters in a two-inning simulated game. Second baseman Brandon Phillips, who was scratched Tuesday with a stiff neck, did not play.
Rangers: Outfielder Josh Hamilton said his tender left knee feels “scary good, best it’s felt in five years.” Hamilton, who is doing on-field activities with running restrictions, received a cortisone shot March 14 in the knee and a stem cell injection in late February. The Rangers are hopeful Hamilton returns in early May.
NO LONGER PERFECT
Rangers rookie LHP Andrew Faulkner had not allowed a run and only three hits over eight innings in his first six outings, but the Reds got to him for a run in the seventh. Faulkner, who struck out three and allowed two hits in two innings, has an 0.90 ERA.
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels, who has been chosen as the opening day starter, will face the San Diego Padres.
Reds: RHP Raisel Iglesias will start against the Colorado Rockies.