CLEVELAND -- The Rangers were leading by a run in the top of the third inning when Josh Hamilton reached on a one-out walk by Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez.Adrian Beltre, on his way to a four-hit night, then lined a hard single to center that should have given the Rangers runners at first and second. But Hamilton wasn't thinking that, even as center fielder Ezequiel Carrera was getting to the ball, and headed for third. "Just be aggressive," Hamilton said. "Those are the things we do that put pressure on the other team to make plays. I think we're starting to ratchet it up a little more." They did so on Friday night, and their aggressive baserunning was one of the big moments in a 5-3 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field. With Hamilton going to third on that play, Carrera threw in that direction -- missing the cutoff man in the process -- allowing Beltre to race to second. So instead of settling for having runners on first and second, the Rangers placed runners on second and third. "We're just trying to take advantage of every opportunity we can and make it easier for the next batter," Beltre said. Jimenez struck out Nelson Cruz for the second out, but Michael Young's infield single scored one run and David Murphy's bloop hit gave the Rangers a three-run lead.
Ryan Dempster helped make it stand by holding the Indians to one unearned run over six innings, and the Rangers have now won 11 of their last 15 games.Closer Joe Nathan retired the final two outs for his 28th save of the season. He's been successful in 26 straight save opportunities, passing John Wetteland and setting a club record. Dempster has been a big part of the Rangers' success lately, going 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last three starts. He went 1-1 with an 8.31 ERA in his first three starts after being acquired from the Cubs on July 31. He said he is starting to pitch the way he did when he threw 33 consecutive scoreless innings for the Cubs from June 5 to July 14. "I'm just trying to focus on each start and not worry about the previous one," Dempster said. "I just went out there and made sure I threw good pitches, kept the ball down and out of the middle of the plate. That's how I've been throwing the ball all year, and I'm trying to stay in that groove." The Indians have now lost 15 of their last 16 games after Jimenez gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings. Indians pitchers combined to strike out 12, but the Rangers went 5-for-18 with runners in scoring position, and four of those hits came with two outs. "That was just guys executing in the clutch," manager Ron Washington said. "You'd like to get them in before that. You don't want to be relying on two-out hits all the time, but tonight we got them." Dempster retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced before walking Jason Kipnis to lead off the fourth. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a grounder to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who threw to second for the force. But shortstop Elvis Andrus' relay to first got past Dempster as he went to cover the bag. Cabrera ended up at second, and he scored on a two-out single by Carlos Santana. But the Rangers were able to get that run back in the top of the sixth. Murphy led off with a triple and scored on a two-out double by Ian Kinsler. In the seventh, Beltre doubled with one out and scored on a two-out single by Young.
"We had plenty of opportunities," said Beltre, who also had an RBI single in the first. "A couple of guys had a hard time, but we got some big hits that were huge. You're not always going to be perfect in those situations, but today we were pretty good."Young's single made it 5-1 and gave the Rangers a sufficient cushion that turned out to be needed after Koji Uehara gave up a two-run homer in the ninth. That required Washington to call on Nathan to end it. Cruz was ejected in the seventh inning after striking out for the third time, this time swinging at a pitch outside the zone from reliever Esmil Rogers. Cruz slammed his bat onto home plate, breaking it into two, then marched off to the dugout. He looked over his shoulder at home-plate umpire Bill Welke, who issued the ejection. It's the first time in his career that Cruz has been thrown out of a game.
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.