Hamilton slams former team in win
Center fielder hits grand slam in Rangers' victory over Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- If Tuesday night proved one thing, it was the Rangers' resiliency.
After mustering just three hits off Scott Kazmir in Monday night's loss, the Rangers' bats didn't just bounce back, they catapulted.
Chief among the breakout bats was Josh Hamilton, who followed Monday's 0-for-4 appearance with a 2-for-5 showing on Tuesday, including a grand slam off Rays reliever J.P. Howell, cushioning a 12-6 victory at Tropicana Field.
"It was huge because it put some distance between those guys," manager Ron Washington said. "It seemed with the grand slam, we had six outs to get from that point and it felt good. You never know what might have happened."
Although it was Hamilton's second grand slam this season, it was especially significant, and fittingly challenging.
The center fielder was originally drafted by the Rays in 1999, and struggled through personal problems while in their farm system before being scooped up by the Cubs in the 2007 Rule 5 Draft.
"That's the most frustrated I've ever been hitting a grand slam in my life," he said. "I was having trouble picking up the ball ... I actually closed my eyes for a split-second because I thought it was going to [curve] in and maybe hit me. I heard it hit [the bat] and opened my eyes back up, and there it went."
The first-pitch shot in the eighth inning was Hamilton's first home run at Tropicana Field, and -- coupled with a first-inning double -- helped match a season-high five RBIs.
"We needed every run we got tonight," Washington said. "We wanted to keep those guys at bay. We did what we do best, and that's put runs on the board and put runs on the board late."
"It was special," Hamilton added, of going yard against his former organization. "Especially because it's the best situation, [it] put the team up four runs."
The runs, while plentiful, were clustered in Tuesday's win.
Texas pounded Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine for three hits and a pair of runs in the first inning, and capitalized on a two-out error from rookie Evan Longoria to tack on five more in the second.
The rookie third baseman's flub on Hamilton's ground ball proved costly, as Sonnanstine couldn't close the door on the Rangers, allowing another three hits, and five unearned runs, swinging the game's early momentum in Texas' favor.
Working with the early seven-run lead, Rangers starter Vincente Padilla notched his first career win vs. the Rays, although it was hardly an easy outing.
The right-hander gave up a two-run homer to Cliff Floyd, who entered the series 4-for-12 with two knocks against Padilla. He also surrendered a two-run blast to Eric Hinske to keep the Rays in striking distance. Floyd proved pesky all night, walking twice and scoring three of the Rays' five runs.
"I had to concentrate a little more, [and] depended on making the right pitches in the right situations," Padilla said. "I was comfortable with the lead, but you can't make mistakes with a team like [the Rays]."
Thankfully, the hurler got the big outs when it counted, fanning a season-high 10 in the six-inning, seven-hit outing.
"They made him work extremely hard," Washington said. "Every inning out there was a battle, but Padilla battled hard, and for the way he left his guts out there, he certainly deserved to win."
Sonnanstine hunkered down for three straight frames after the rough second, but the red-hot Rays were dealt their second home loss in the past 18 games, despite a valiant effort.
"When they started chipping away, they were coming, and we needed every run we got," Washington said. "But Vinnie stood out there and fought, and they just didn't get enough runs to overtake us."
The same bats that fell in the series opener proved to be the catalyst that bounced the Rangers back to .500.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.