06/21/2007 2:45 AM ET
Rangers ride Sosa's 600th blast to win
Loe solid through 6 2/3 innings in second straight quality start
By Drew Davison / MLB.com
Fireworks mark the occasion as Sammy Sosa rounds the bases after his 600th homer. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
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ARLINGTON -- A little adjustment has paid huge dividends for Kameron Loe. He moved his arm angle up, and now there is more break in his secondary pitches -- a changeup and slider.
"I raised my arm slot just a bit, and it allowed me to get the downhill angle on those pitches more," Loe said. "It allowed them to be sharper. It's been a real big pitch, especially the last few outings for me."
Backed by Sammy Sosa's 600th career homer, Loe carried the Rangers to a 7-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night in front of 37,564 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
His big breaking slider was evident in the first inning. Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano led off with a double, but Loe struck out Felix Pie with his breaking ball. He got Derrek Lee and Cliff Floyd to ground out, ending the first-inning threat.
"To pitch out of that, it shows what kind of command and stuff he had tonight," catcher Gerald Laird said. "He threw the ball really well and made pitches when he needed to. That's what you got to do in this game."
Loe allowed six hits, three runs (all earned) over 6 2/3 innings, lowering his ERA from 6.56 to 6.34.
When Loe was sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma June 9, he threw a bullpen session in front of pitching coach Andy Hawkins. Hawkins suggested to Loe that he move his arm angle up, and it has worked.
Loe threw eight scoreless innings in his last outing, June 14 at Pittsburgh, which snapped a six-game losing streak. In his last two starts, Loe is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA. In his previous nine, Loe was 0-6 with an 8.57 ERA.
"I mixed my pitches well and held them for quite a while," he said. "I got some ground balls and had real good defense behind me. I got some strikeouts when I needed to, and, for the most part, gave us an opportunity to win and score runs."
When reliever Frank Francisco came in for the seventh inning, the Rangers were leading, 6-3. It was Loe's fourth quality start of the season, and the Rangers are 3-1 in those games.
"They got a good lineup, but he worked ahead in the count," Laird said. "When he fell behind, he got back with his offspeed stuff. He's always had good movement and good stuff, but just getting ahead and making hitters hit his pitch is the biggest key."
Loe held the Cubs scoreless through the first four innings, until Soriano hit a solo blast off him in the fifth. Koyie Hill hit a two-run home run in the seventh to pull Chicago within three, but the Rangers held on to their lead.
Texas scored six runs against Cubs starter Jason Marquis, who gave up five hits and four walks over five innings.
The biggest was Sosa's historic home run in the fifth inning, followed by Frank Catalanotto making it back-to-back blasts.
"When I was waiting on deck, Marlon Byrd said, 'There is nothing you can do right now that's going to be better than that,'" Catalanotto said. "I laughed. It's tough to upstage someone's 600th home run, but it gave fans a reason to continue to clap."
Catalanotto drove in the seventh run with an RBI single in the seventh.
While it was Sosa's night, Loe had a pretty good one as well. At least he wasn't the pitcher who gave up the historic home run.
"You don't want to be that guy," Loe said.
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.