ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Rangers already had four straight two-out singles in the ninth inning, putting the potential tying run at third base for Adrian Beltre.
The slugger struck out on three pitches, though, and the Rangers kept sliding with a 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
"It's just a matter of getting a hit in the right situation. We just haven't been able to put it together here," manager Ron Washington said. "We know what (Beltre's) track record is and what he's capable of doing. He's a guy who always rises to a challenge. I'm looking forward to him coming back."
Beltre, a .318 hitter, already had two hits and an RBI before his final at-bat.
The Rangers, who still need another victory for their fifth consecutive winning season, will lose their fourth series in a row no matter what happens in Wednesday's finale against the NL wild-card leader. Texas has lost seven of its last nine games, but remained two games back in the AL West with Oakland's loss to Minnesota.
Pittsburgh scored three runs with four consecutive two-out hits in the fifth off rookie left-hander Martin Perez (9-4), who had won his previous six starts since the beginning of August.
Pirates reliever Mark Melancon struck out pinch-hitters David Murphy and Mitch Moreland to start the ninth.
Leonys Martin then singled, went to second on defensive indifference and scored on Ian Kinsler's single. Elvis Andrus singled before an RBI hit for Alex Rios got the Rangers within a run. Beltre took the first pitch before swinging at the next two.
"He got one of the best hitters in the game out to finish it off," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Two outs, and nobody on base, and before you know it, you've got a game out there, you've got a nail-biter on your hands at the end. ... At the end of the day, he struck out the side, with a little action in between."
Francisco Liriano pitched six innings for his career-high 16th victory and Andrew McCutchen had three RBI singles for Pittsburgh.
A night after victory No. 82 ensured the Pirates' first winning season since 1992, they got a series-clinching victory and stayed within a game of NL Central-leading St. Louis.