Kinsler powers Rangers to victory
Second baseman extends hitting streak to 25 games in win
ARLINGTON -- Milton Bradley stood at his locker after the Rangers' gut-wrenching 12-11 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, talking about peaks and valleys and how this year's Rangers team never quits.
"We never get tired," said Bradley, one of four Rangers that were getting ready to depart for New York for Tuesday's All-Star Game. "We never get frustrated." Even when the Rangers were down, 3-0, early, or when they took the lead, only to see the White Sox tie the game at 7 in the seventh inning. Or when they retook the lead with three runs in the bottom of the seventh and ultimately built a 12-8 lead, only to see the White Sox rally and almost come back in the top of the ninth.
As the Rangers enter the All-Star break, they have proven to themselves that they can play with anyone -- the latest example being a 4-3 homestand against the division-leading Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox. They overcame a 9-18 start to hit the break at 50-46, matching their best record of the season.
And they're not satisfied, yet.
"We're nowhere close to where we want to be," said All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler, who on Sunday extended his hitting streak to 25 games. "We're never satisfied." Sunday's close call against the White Sox is Exhibit "A" why the Rangers, in Bradley's words, "must keep fighting" and, in Kinsler's words, why they "can't be satisfied."
Kinsler had run-scoring hits in his first three at-bats on Sunday and Bradley tied his career high with his 19th home run. Like the White Sox, the Rangers scored in each of the first three innings, and led, 7-5, after three.
The White Sox chipped away with single runs in the fifth and seventh innings to tie the game at 7.
Marlon Byrd snapped the tie in the bottom of the seventh with a line-drive double down the left-field line. All-Star shortstop Michael Young extended the lead to 10-7 after coming through with a two-strike, two-run single after struggling against Chicago starter Jose Contreras.
The Rangers added two runs in the eighth on hits by rookies Brandon Boggs and Max Ramirez.
"We don't give in at all," Young said. "That's something special about this team."
The Rangers almost blew a 12-8 lead in the ninth inning when closer C.J. Wilson allowed four consecutive singles to start the inning. In his defense, however, most of them were bloops and bleeders.
Jermaine Dye's two-run ground-ball single with one out cut the Rangers' lead to 12-11, leaving the tying run at second base and the go-ahead run at first.
Wilson then engaged in an epic battle with left-handed slugger Jim Thome, who spoiled two fastballs before taking a slider for strike three. Wilson then fell behind White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko with a 3-1 count before getting Konerko to swing at a slider in the dirt for strike two, and looking at a fastball on the outside corner to end the game.
"We're the cardiac kids," Wilson said. "We make it interesting. We're like bad cholesterol, but it always tastes good."
It wasn't a good day to be a pitcher -- all five Ranger pitchers allowed at least one run, and three of the White Sox pitchers allowed runs.
"Any major leaguer who pitched in this game should be embarrassed," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "People paid a lot of money to watch this circus. Both sides, not just mine. From the first inning to the last, it was horrible. I've never seen such horrible pitching in all my years in baseball."
Rangers' rookie starter Matt Harrison had made a splashing Major League debut on Tuesday, holding the Angels to two runs in seven innings in a 3-2 victory over the AL West leaders.
In his second start, Harrison had trouble keeping the ball down. He allowed Carlos Quentin, the third batter of the game, to loft a two-run home for a 2-0 lead. Thome narrowly missed a home run later in the inning.
Juan Uribe tripled high of the wall in left field, and scored on an Orlando Cabrera single to give Chicago a 4-1 lead.
"They were hitting his fastball, and he was missing with his slider off the plate," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
The Rangers will use the All-Star break and try and regroup their rotation -- they have used 26 pitchers -- knowing they have grinded and stayed in the AL West race by winning series after series, rather than going on long winning streaks.
They did it again Sunday, winning their fourth of five series, as they split a four-game series with the Angels earlier this week.
The way the team has played has inspired new Rangers like Bradley, who was asked after the game about making Texas his long-term home.
Said Bradley: "I've enjoyed my time here, but it just seems wherever I've been, I've given someone an excuse to move me or trade me. Nobody has been willing to go out on a limb and make that commitment to me, and that's unfortunate. But it's not going to change how I approach things."
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.