Sosa inches closer to 600 homers
Veteran's two-run homer highlights team effort vs. Red Sox
ARLINGTON -- They announced 40,865 fans at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Saturday night and those that were willing to hang around in thirty-something degree temperatures got to see Sammy Sosa go deep for the first time this year.They saw Sosa jump on a first-pitch fastball from Red Sox reliever J.C. Romero and blast it into the left-center-field seats for his 589th career home run. They got to see him do his famous "hop" after the ball disappeared in to the seats and were still standing and applauding until he re-emerged from the dugout for his first curtain call of the season. It was the only curtain call in the Rangers' 8-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in the coldest game played at the Ballpark. Jerry Hairston, starting instead of Ian Kinsler, didn't get a curtain call for starting a pair of four-run rallies with a walk in the third inning and a double in the seventh. Nelson Cruz didn't get one for a two-out two-run single in the third or a run-scoring single in the seventh. Third-base coach Don Wakamatsu certainly didn't get one for aggressively waving home Michael Young after Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew let the shortstop's double roll past him for an error. And Ron Mahay wasn't asked to come out of the dugout after retiring five hitters at a pivotal moment of the ballgame. But there was more going on than just one historical home run in the Rangers' second straight win at home. "It was a team," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We played together as a team. Anything we do, we do as a team." The Rangers finished with 14 hits after collecting just 18 in their first four games. But the Rangers' big night really started with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the second. The Red Sox were already leading, 2-0, and had David Ortiz standing at the plate. Rangers starter Kevin Millwood had already allowed seven of Boston's first hitters to reach base and Ortiz entered the game 5-for-9 with three home runs off the right-hander. But Millwood got Ortiz on a grounder back to the mound to end the threat. "We swung the bats well, but pitching sets the tone, and Millwood did a great job battling tonight," Young said. Hairston got the Rangers going with one out in the third with a walk off Red Sox starter Julian Tavarez, and Young followed with a line drive down the right-field line. Drew tried to cut it off and keep it from going into the corner, but the ball rolled under his glove for an error. Drew then missed the cutoff man and Wakamatsu waved home Young, who barely slid around catcher Jason Varitek's tag to tie the score. "A great call," said Washington, who has been urging Wakamatsu to be more aggressive at third base. "I was going to stop him at third until I saw the overthrow at first base," Wakamatsu said. "Mike made that happen by never stopping." Before the inning was over, Mark Teixeira and Sosa singled, Brad Wilkerson walked and Nelson Cruz lined a single to left to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. They were up, 4-3, going into the sixth when Hairston led off with a double and scored on Teixeira's single. "Hairston sparked us tonight and made a lot of things happen," Washington said. "I've always said we need everybody, and we needed him tonight." Hairston finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored. "I just stay ready," Hairston said. "The big thing is to get back to playing the way I was in Baltimore [from 2002-04] when I was playing regularly. I was getting better even though injuries were holding me back. Last year, I didn't get many at-bats and it was frustrating, so I said no matter how many at-bats I get this year, I'm going to make the most of them." Sosa followed Teixeira with his home run off Romero, giving the Rangers a 7-3 lead and making a little history in the process. Sosa has now hit a home run in 43 Major League parks, tying Ken Griffey Jr. and Fred McGriff for the most in Major League history. Sosa can take the lead later this month at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. "I was just very happy to contribute to the team winning tonight," Sosa said. "The reception from the fans was incredible. I just want to continue to help the team win. It's only been five games, but everybody, not just me, is starting to feel comfortable."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.