SURPRISE, Ariz. -- On a day when Alexi Ogando struggled, Yangervis Solarte saved the Rangers from a Cactus League-opening loss with a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth off of Blaine Boyer for a 5-5 tie with the Royals on Friday at Surprise Stadium.
Will Smith, a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, pitched two scoreless innings in his first start for the Royals, while Derek Holland gave up a run on six hits in his three innings of work for the Rangers. But Ogando was not quite as sharp in 1 1/3 innings.
Ogando, who is being moved back to the rotation after a year in the bullpen, allowed three runs on two hits, two walks and a hit batter. He was trying to work on his changeup as well as pitching inside to hitters but with little success.
"When you can't find the strike zone, bad things happen," Ogando said. "I was trying to work on both sides of the plate and work on my changeup, but it seemed like nothing was working. It wasn't typical like my bullpens and my live batting practices. Today, nothing worked out."
Smith was sharp for the Royals, retiring six straight hitters. He had one strikeout, getting David Murphy swinging to end the first, and no walks.
"I was amped up in the bullpen," Smith said. "I had some pitches up in the pen, but once I got out there, everything came back -- slowing it down, just having fun out there."
The Rangers did not score until Nelson Cruz hit a two-run home run off of Yordano Ventura in the fourth.
Robbie Ross made his first appearance and pitched two scoreless innings. He is trying to win a job as the Rangers' fifth starter after pitching in relief last season as a rookie.
Royals up next: Guillermo Moscoso pitches for the Royals against the Rangers in Surprise. Moscoso is one of the candidates for the fifth starter spot, although his competition includes Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza. Dan Wheeler will follow Moscoso on the mound in his attempt to win a spot in the bullpen.
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.