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04/16/09 2:03 AM ET
Benson earns first victory in 2 1/2 years
Kinsler goes 6-for-6, hits for cycle; Cruz clubs grand slam
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Ian Kinsler had the greatest night of his career. Rangers starter Kris Benson was willing to settle for something less. He was simply able to feel good about his first Major League victory in 2 1/2 years after allowing four runs in six innings in the Rangers' 19-6 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday. The victory snapped the Rangers' five-game losing streak. "It's a big monkey off my back," Benson said. "I had a few wins in Spring Training but that doesn't mean anything. Now I'll be able to relax after I got this one behind me." Benson, who missed two full Major League seasons because of a torn rotator cuff, last won a game on Sept. 21, 2006, while pitching for the Orioles against the Tigers. Benson had plenty of offensive support. Not only did Kinsler hit for the cycle and finish with six hits, but Marlon Byrd had a five-hit night and Nelson Cruz drove in a career-high six runs with a grand slam and two-run double. "I love it," Byrd said. "Five hits and I'm second on the team in hits. That tells you something is going right." Kinsler not only hit for the cycle but he also caused a stir in the bottom of the eighth inning after an RBI double off of reliever Matt Albers made it 16-4. Kinsler then went to third on a wild pitch to Michael Young and that didn't sit well with the Orioles. Two batters later, Albers responded by hitting Andruw Jones with a pitch. "I don't know what [Albers'] problem was, if the guy was upset he was getting hit around or upset that I took third base," Kinsler said. "I didn't mean anything by it. If that's how they want to respond, that's fine." The Rangers finished with 19 runs, the most by one team in the Major Leagues this season and the most by the Rangers since a 30-3 victory over the Orioles on Aug. 22, 2007. But, despite the massive run support, Benson earned this victory by pitching well in two critical spots early in the game. One was in the second inning. The Orioles had a 3-1 lead with the bases loaded and two outs. Benson had just walked Adam Jones to force in a run. But he escaped further trouble by getting Nick Markakis to fly out to left field. "That was make-or-break right there," Benson said. "I was just trying to find a groove and fortunately I found it." His second big moment came in the top of the fourth inning. The Rangers had just scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-3 lead. This was the "turnaround" inning, a problem for the Rangers during their losing streak. Too many times, manager Ron Washington said, the Rangers were taking the lead in one inning and then giving it right back. Benson admitted that was on his mind. "I just started attacking the zone," Benson said. "I was trying to attack the zone before, it just wasn't working for me. So I had to just keep trying to attack the zone." He did. Benson needed just 13 pitches to retire the Orioles in order for the only time in the game. That put the Rangers right back in their dugout and their offense responded with an eight-run rally against Orioles starter Mark Hendrickson. "That's what we've been looking for," Washington said. "That's what we needed. Then we can come back with the momentum in our favor and we can keep it going." The Rangers did just that. Now they get a day off before opening a three-game series against the Royals on Friday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "Tonight everything fell into place," Washington said. "Offensively ... we played well defensively, we pitched well. Hopefully this will be a springboard to get us back to where we want to be."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.