ARLINGTON -- Rangers closer Joe Nathan was ahead 1-and-2 on Alex Rios. Nathan thought the White Sox outfielder would be looking for a slider or something offspeed and instead tried to get him with the fastball."If anything, I thought he would foul it off," Nathan said. "But I still have to throw it in the right spot. He's still a professional hitter and I've got to hit my spot. I thought he would have a little more defensive swing. That was not a defensive swing." No it was not. Rios smashed the 1-2 fastball over the center-field fence -- just beyond the leaping reach of Josh Hamilton -- for a home run to lead off the ninth inning that gave the White Sox a 4-3 victory over the Rangers on Saturday night Nathan, who earned his first save for the Rangers on Opening Day, entered this game with the score 3-3 going into the ninth at Rangers Ballpark. "He's my closer," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It's not a save situation, but I'm still trying to save the game. If I don't use him there, I'm not going to use him at all. I brought him in there to keep it right there and give us another chance to score." Nathan, who for the second straight game came into pitch after Alexi Ogando and Mike Adams each pitched a scoreless inning, figured it the same way. "I've still got to put a zero on the board and then have our team put a tally on the board," Nathan said. "It's not a save situation, but I still have to put up a zero on the board and get out of the inning." The Rangers, going up against right-handed starter Jake Peavy, outhit the White Sox, 10-5, but failed to score over the final six innings by going hitless in their last five at-bats with runners in scoring position. "We squared up a lot of balls and didn't find many holes," designated hitter Michael Young said. "We pushed some runs across early but Peavy settled down. ... We made a lot of hard contact and didn't get many breaks." Rangers starter Derek Holland went six innings, allowing three runs on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts. Paul Konerko drove in three runs against him with a single and a double, but the walks were what hurt the most. Holland, in a 1-1 game, had two outs and nobody on in the third when he walked Brent Lillibridge and Adam Dunn. Konerko then doubled into the right-center-field gap to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead. "Those are the type of things Derek has to get past, and he will," Washington said about the walks. "That was really bad on my part," Holland said. "I'm pretty upset about that. One pitch [to Konerko] got away from me. I didn't get in the right spot." The Rangers did rally for two runs in the bottom of the inning. Ian Kinsler tripled and scored on Elvis Andrus' single to make it 3-2. Andrus then went to second on a balk, to third on Hamilton's infield hit and scored on Adrian Beltre's sacrifice fly. That was it for the Rangers on the night. They couldn't do anything after David Murphy doubled to lead off the fourth, and all their hits the rest of the night came with two outs. "You have to like the way we are competing out there," Konerko said. "Our pitchers, to hold that lineup to three runs two games in a row, hopefully we can do it one more day and get out of here before they kill somebody. They have a pretty good lineup." The Rangers almost broke through against White Sox left-hander Matt Thornton in the eighth. Young and Nelson Cruz reached on two-out hits and Thornton hit David Murphy. That brought up Mike Napoli, who hit .319 with a .631 slugging percentage against left-handers last year. But Napoli was 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in his career against Thornton. White Sox manager Robin Ventura stayed with the left-hander even though right-hander Jesse Crain was warming up in the bullpen. "Matty's good with righties, too," Ventura said. "He runs it in. He's not an easy at-bat for righties. I just like that matchup." Thornton threw three straight balls, then had to come in with the fastball. Napoli took one for a strike that might have been borderline, fouled off the second and then hit one at third baseman Brent Morel for an inning-ending force play. "I just tried to go up there and battle," Napoli said. "I got into a hitter's count but fouled a pitch off and then he made a good 3-2 pitch. It cut in on me. I tried to fight it. It was a good pitch." Thornton made the right pitch in the right situation. Nathan tried and couldn't, and the Rangers split their first two games. "It happens," Adams said. "We knew we weren't going to go undefeated and we knew we weren't going to not give up a run all season."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.