CHICAGO -- After the Cubs' offense seemingly felt miles away all night Tuesday, it came within an inch or two of pulling through at the end.
Chicago did not have a runner advance past second base against Derek Holland and the Rangers until the ninth inning, when a furious rally ended at the hands of a diving Craig Gentry in center field.
Darwin Barney, seeing his first game action this year after a leg injury postponed his 2013 debut, battled Rangers closer Joe Nathan for eight pitches in the game's ultimate at-bat.
It culminated with the bases loaded, a 79-mph 2-2 curveball, a line drive to center, Gentry's sprawling effort and a 4-2 Rangers win.
"I was thinking, 'This is why we play,' and all those crazy things," Barney said of his final at-bat. "Unfortunately, I got punched in the neck, it felt like. You get a good piece and you pray it drops, and it doesn't. That's part of the game. What a catch out there. Gosh. That ball gets by him, it's game over."
It was nearly as stunning that the Cubs were in such a position at all. Only Alfonso Soriano, who doubled in the fourth, reached second base before Starling Castro did in the ninth.
Castro singled to lead off the final frame, and he scored along with Anthony Rizzo on a Nate Schierholtz pinch-hit double off Nathan. Welington Castillo was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Barney stepped to the plate, 0-for-3 to that point.
"We're there every game," said starting pitcher Travis Wood, the Cubs' most conspicuous victim of the offensive struggles Tuesday. "We just need to figure out what we need to do to get over the hump and start winning all these ballgames when we're in it all the way."
Wood has a sterling 1.83 ERA (four earned runs in 19 2/3 innings) through three starts, with a win, a loss and a no-decision to show for it. He left with a man on in the eighth against Texas, and finished with a line of two runs on five hits, three walks and three strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings.
But he was outdone by fellow lefty Holland, who limited the Cubs to two hits in seven shutout frames. Holland struck out six.
Texas' runs came on two fourth-inning doubles and a eighth inning that spiraled downward on Chicago reliever Shawn Camp. A one-out hit-and-run after Wood departed -- Ian Kinsler was running on the 1-1 pitch to Elvis Andrus -- set the table for Adrian Beltre, who had also driven in the game's first run.
Camp made an errant pickoff attempt to first base that allowed Kinsler to score and Andrus to move to third. Beltre then smacked Camp's 2-0 offering over the left-center-field wall to make it 4-0. Camp's ERA this year now sits at 15.43 after a forgettable outing also in Sunday's series finale against the Giants.
"The bad pickoff and obviously another hanging slider; Beltre crushed it against obviously a pretty stiff wind blowing in," manager Dale Sveum said. "He got every ounce of that ball. But obviously gave up a run on a pickoff, not a balk, but he threw a ball away with a guy on third base. The guy didn't even have a lead."
But with all that said, the Cubs still found themselves a diving catch away from a shocking win on a chilly night at Wrigley.
"In that situation, unless you're sure you can catch it, you don't do something like that, especially with the winning run out there," Gentry said. "But as I got closer, the ball seemed to hang up there and I was able to catch it."