CHICAGO -- The Rangers take a lead and can't add to it. Then they eventually lose the lead and the game.
That's been a recurring theme for the Rangers all season, and it came up again on a rainy Monday night on the South Side of Chicago. For the 35th time this season, the Rangers lost a game in which they once led after the White Sox rallied for a 5-3 win at U.S. Cellular Field.
Those 35 losses are the most in the Major Leagues, six more than the White Sox and Blue Jays. The Rangers' record for the most defeats in a season after a lead got away is 50, set in 2008. They had 21 such losses in 2013.
One part of the problem is the fact that the pitchers are not holding leads. The other part is their depleted offense not being able to tack on runs. The Rangers, for the second straight game, had a three-run lead after the top of the second, this time against White Sox starter Hector Noesi. But they managed just one single over the next five innings before the game was called by rain in the middle of the seventh.
It's the second time since the All-Star break the Rangers lost a game that was shortened by rain. The game had been delayed for 22 minutes at the start by the threat of rain.
"We'll rally and put runs on the board, but we have to find a way to tack on runs," manager Ron Washington said. "That's what you want to do."
Starter Nick Martinez took the loss after allowing five runs over five-plus innings. He allowed eight hits and three walks, and struck out four. He hasn't won since May 24 and is now 1-8 with a 5.31 ERA on the season.
"He's making progress," Washington said. "I'd still like to see him get through the sixth and seventh innings. He's got the stuff, he just has to learn how to use it and minimize the damage. Take that deep breath and minimize the damage."
Noesi, who was released by the Rangers at the end of April, earned the victory. He also earned his first Major League complete game, having completed the seven innings.
Tyler Flowers did the most damage for the White Sox, with a triple, a home run and a two-run single. The rain kept him from a shot at the cycle.
The Rangers got to Noesi early.
In the first inning, Elvis Andrus singled to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, advanced to second on Alex Rios' grounder and scored on a single by Adrian Beltre. Rougned Odor added a two-run homer in the second inning, but that was the last of the Rangers' offense for the night.
The White Sox started coming back in the bottom of the third. Flowers hit a one-out triple off the top of the right-field wall that just eluded the reach of outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Martinez then walked the next two batters before giving up a two-run single to Jose Abreu.
"I went out there attacking hitters and did a good job of throwing strikes," Martinez said. "But that one inning, I was just so focused on not letting the runner score instead of continuing to attack hitters, and I ended up walking guys. It could have been better game management, but I was so concerned about not letting him score, I was nibbling a little bit."
Flowers tied it up in the fifth with a home run, his eighth of the season, and the White Sox went ahead in the sixth. Dayan Viciedo led off with a single and moved to third on Conor Gillaspie's soft line drive, which fell just inside the right-field line for a double.
That was it for Martinez. Nate Adcock entered and struck out the next two hitters, but then came Flowers, who lined a single to center to give the White Sox a two-run lead.
"Adcock did a good job of getting those two guys, and he got Flowers in the hole [at 2-2]," Washington said. "But he served up a breaking ball, and Flowers threw it in there."
Then the rains washed out the Rangers' chances of mounting their own comeback.
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.