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TEX@BOS: Rangers pull ahead with seven-run sixth

BOSTON -- Even Josh Hamilton noticed something unusual about the games played between the Rangers and the Red Sox this season.

"Doesn't it seem like when we play each other somebody wears the other out?" Hamilton said. "It seems like it's always a blow out. I don't think I've seen a close game against them this year."

That has been the case, and the Rangers gained the upper hand on Sunday afternoon. They were the ones that broke the game open with a big inning, scoring seven runs in the sixth inning and marching on to an 11-4 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The victory allowed them to take two of three this weekend and finish 6-4 against the Red Sox during the season. Right now, with the Rangers leading the American League West and the Red Sox ahead in the AL Wild Card standings, the two teams are on course to meet in the first round of the playoffs.

The Rangers' average margin of victory in their six wins was six runs. The Red Sox averaged seven in their four victories.

"There is no more to this than we won two of three," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We did a good job pitching in the games we won. We swung the bats well all weekend but it's about pitching and we pitched two pretty good games. Teams like that can swing the bat, so you have to bring your good pitching.

"You've got to pitch against the Red Sox, but you've got to pitch against the Rangers, too."

In this one, Rangers starter Matt Harrison outpitched Red Sox starter John Lackey. Harrison allowed seven runs in five innings in his last start against the Red Sox on Aug. 24 and prompted the Rangers to skip him in the rotation to give him extra rest. He did pitch two scoreless innings in relief against the Rays last Wednesday, but he said he noticed a significant difference on Sunday afternoon.

"The rest definitely helped," Harrison said. "I had my legs under me and felt great the whole game. Even with 110 pitches, I felt good the whole game. I was able to command my fastball in and out and throw my curveball any time I wanted. Because of that I was able to keep them off-balance. Mentally getting a break was good, because I was able to keep my focus the whole game."

Harrison, now 11-9 with a 3.50 ERA, was scoreless through six innings and had a 9-0 lead going into the seventh, when the Red Sox finally scored two.

What Harrison did best was get big outs with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position through five innings and that allowed the Rangers to take a 2-0 lead into the sixth before they knocked out Lackey and reliever Felix Doubront.

"He had good velocity, but he executed pitches," Washington said. "You can have all the velocity in the world but you've got to be able to execute pitches, and you have to do it to get through that lineup. You've got to move the ball around and keep guys off-balance. You can't let that lineup get in a groove, and that's what he did."

The Rangers finished with 15 hits, including three by Ian Kinsler. His home run in the ninth was his sixth against the Red Sox, tying Juan Gonzalez (1996) for the most by a Ranger in one season against Boston.

But the bottom of the order did the most damage. The Rangers' bottom four spots were a combined 9-for-17 with seven runs scored. That included Mike Napoli's ninth-inning home run that hit off the back wall of the center-field bleachers.

Lackey beat the Rangers on Aug. 23, but he is 2-5 with a 9.33 ERA in his last 10 starts against them and 12-14 with a 6.16 ERA in 36 career starts. He has more starts against the Rangers than any active pitcher and his ERA is the second highest behind only teammate Tim Wakefield (6.22).

"Twice in a week and a half -- I don't have a whole of tricks left," Lackey said. "Definitely you try to change sequences. They have a good lineup, man -- they're tough. They definitely had my pitch count up quite a bit there in the sixth inning. They got enough of some hits to get me out of there."

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a triple by David Murphy and a single by Napoli. A double by Endy Chavez and a triple by Kinsler made it 2-0 in the third.

A triple was also the big blow in the sixth. Lackey started the inning by giving up singles to Michael Young, Adrian Beltre and Murphy to make it 3-0. Napoli drew a walk to load the bases and Doubront replaced Lackey.

Mitch Moreland singled home one run, Esteban German walked to force in another run and a sacrifice fly by Kinsler made it 6-0. After Elvis Andrus walked, Hamilton delivered the Rangers' third triple of the afternoon to bring home three more runs.

That was more than enough for Harrison and for the Rangers, who have won six of their last nine games, including two of three in Boston.

"It just shows we're continuing to play well and continuing to stay focused," Murphy said. "It's tough to come in here and win three games. To win the series is huge. A great goal from here on out is just to keep winning series."

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