Rangers muscle their way past Orioles
Kinsler homers and records five hits; Hamilton, Byrd go yard
BALTIMORE -- This is a tough way to stay in the American League Wild Card race, but it's what the Rangers have done best so far this season.When one of their rookie pitchers struggles, they just outslug the opposition, and that's what they did in breaking out of their offensive slump on a bright, but humid, Sunday afternoon. The Rangers traded offensive punches with the Orioles for four innings, and then delivered the knockout blow with a six-run fifth inning that carried them to a 15-7 victory at Camden Yards. The win allowed Texas to salvage the last game of the three-game series and avoid getting swept by last-place Baltimore. Milton Bradley, out since straining his left quad on July 29, started for the Rangers and had to leave after two plate appearances because of a stomach virus. But manager Ron Washington said his presence made a difference. "We had the resemblance of a lineup like we want it," Washington said. "Having Milton in there changed the whole attitude and allowed other guys to get better pitches." Ian Kinsler, who was hitting .205 since the All-Star break, led the way with the first five-hit game of his career, including a two-run home run off Orioles rookie starter Chris Waters. The home run was his 15th of the season, but first since July 5. "I'll take it, that's for sure," Kinsler said. "I felt really comfortable at the plate all day and hopefully it will carry over in Boston." Marlon Byrd, off to a terrific start in August, also had a huge afternoon, going 4-for-6 with a three-run home run. Byrd has 16 hits in his past 27 at-bats and is hitting .474 this month. "I've been a slow starter my whole career, and I started off slow this year," Byrd said. "But things are finally starting to click for me, and I'm making pitchers work more. It's been a battle, but it's working for me."
Josh Hamilton had three hits, and the bottom three hitters in the lineup -- Chris Davis, Travis Metcalf and Jason Ellison -- each had two-hit games. The Rangers matched their season high with 20 hits, set in a July 10 loss to the Angels."It's bittersweet," Byrd said. "The offense broke out, but we still have to shut teams down." Rangers rookie left-hander Matt Harrison picked up the victory despite twice giving up leads. He allowed six runs on a season-high 10 hits and two walks in five innings, and even with an aeronautical 7.07 ERA, he's now 4-2 in seven starts. "A win is a win, but I wish this would have been better," Harrison said. "I've got to thank the offense for backing me up. They kept scoring runs. I feel bad; I got a four-run lead and started putting too much pressure on myself to throw strikes and be too fine. I finally got my confidence in the fifth inning, but by then it was too late."
The Rangers entered the game having scored just two runs in their past 34 innings, but Hamilton helped put that out of their minds by hitting a three-run home run in the first inning. Singles by Byrd, Davis and Metcalf added another run to make it 4-0."The home run by Hamilton helped relax us a little bit," Kinsler said. "We had to battle the first five innings, but we swung the bats good all day." Yet Harrison couldn't hold the lead, which was gone by the bottom of the third. Melvin Mora hit a two-run home run in the first, Luis Montanez drove in Jay Payton, who had doubled, with a single in the second, and Aubrey Huff hit a two-run homer in the third. Kinsler's two-run homer reclaimed the lead for the Rangers, but again they couldn't keep it for long. The Orioles tied the game at 6 in the bottom half of the fourth, when Mora singled home Brian Roberts with one out. In the next frame, though, the Rangers struck with a vengeance against the Orioles' bullpen and put together a lead that their own bullpen was able to make stand. Byrd led off the inning with a double and went to third on Gerald Laird's line-drive single off Alex Cintron's glove. Davis walked to load the bases, and Metcalf put the Rangers ahead when his bloop single fell in just in front of Montanez in left. Jason Ellison followed with a two-run single, Kinsler and Michael Young singled in a pair of runs off reliever Lance Cormier and one more scored after grounders by Hamilton and Byrd. Harrison left after five, and the Rangers' bullpen stabilized the game. Warner Madrigal and Jamey Wright combined for three scoreless innings before Eddie Guardado allowed a run in the ninth.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.