When Kameron Loe was demoted to the minors last Saturday after another poor outing, he was given specific instructions to work on his breaking ball and changeup.
He must be a quick learner.
Recalled on Thursday as an injury-replacement starter, Loe tossed eight shutout innings for the Texas Rangers in a 6-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"He didn't even get a chance to work on his stuff," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "So I guess he's smarter than us. All we had to do was tell him."
Gerald Laird, Jerry HairstonJr., Travis Metcalf homered for the Rangers, who avoided a three-game sweep.
Loe (2-6), who had lost his past six decisions, allowed five hits and three walks with a career-high seven strikeouts. He had been demoted after giving up nine runs in 2 2-3 innings in an 11-4 loss to Detroit. Texas had lost eight of the previous nine games he started.
But he spent only two days with Triple-A Oklahoma in Albuquerque before getting called back.
"I knew when I was up here things weren't going quite right and I needed to get something together," Loe said. "But maybe something subconsciously clicked and, honestly, I think it was just raising my arm angle a little bit. I don't have a profound answer for you. I did a lot of thinking."
Loe entered the game with a 7.40 ERA and on a personal six-game losing streak since winning his first start of the season April 21. He did not permit a Pirate to reach third base.
"The type of game he pitched tonight," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said, "I find it hard to believe that all the previous games that he pitched were similar to the way he pitched tonight."
Metcalf's first major league hit was a home run to left in the sixth off Pirates starter Tom Gorzelanny (6-4). The shot came during the third baseman's sixth at-bat in the majors.
"Some people go 0-for-5 in one game, for me it was like three weeks. So it's nice to finally get the first one out of the way," Metcalf said. "Now I can start working on getting some base hits and doing it every night. I felt like it was hit pretty well, but I was running it out just to make sure."
Hairston hit Gorzelanny's fourth pitch of the game into the left field bleachers. It was his second homer of the season and sixth leadoff home run of his career.
Chris Duffy and Ryan Doumit each had two hits for Pittsburgh, which had won the first two games of the series.
Entering the seventh, Gorzelanny had an impressive line: Two runs and four hits with one walk. But Laird hit a three-run homer to break the game open, scoring Michael Young and Marlon Byrd. It was Laird's fourth of the season and first for the Rangers in four games.
"That kid (Gorzelanny) is tough," Laird said. "He throws a good fastball, a good slider and a good changeup. We figured it would be a battle tonight, but he left some pitches up with men on base and we got some good swings on them."
Gorzelanny ultimately allowed five runs and seven hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out four.
"Three unlucky pitches," Gorzelanny said, "and stuff happens."
Young drove in Loe with a single in the eighth off of Dan Kolb, the former Brewers' closer who was making his Pirates debut.
Masumi Kuwata, the 39-year-old rookie and former Japanese league star, made his home debut for the Pirates by pitching a perfect ninth. About 40 members of the Japanese media were in attendance for the series.
"We never really threatened. It wasn't like we had a big rally," Jason Bay said. "He was just kind of missing the barrel (of the bat) or having us beat it into the ground, which -- when a sinker-ball guy is on -- what's going to happen."