06/23/10 1:20 AM ET
Hamilton in thick of ninth straight win
Red-hot slugger part of key scoring and defensive plays
By Chris Cox / MLB.com
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
"I think it's been two weeks that he's been doing that," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's been doing everything. He's running the bases, playing defense, getting big hits. Whichever way it has to be done ... he's been doing everything. I just hope he can keep it up for three more months."The win helped the Rangers tie the mark for the second-best win streak in franchise history. The Rangers also won nine games in a row in 1991, did it twice in 1999 and most recently did it in 2005. "One through nine [we're contributing]," Hamilton said. "Even the pitchers picked up some slack on the road. They did a good job at the plate and on the mound. We're a team right now. That's a good place to be." One game after driving in the game-tying and go-ahead runs against the Astros on Sunday, Hamilton once again provided a spark for the offense. With the Rangers trailing, 2-1, Hamilton led off the fifth inning with a double, pushing his hit streak to a career-high 17 games. After Matt Treanor walked to put runners on the corners with two outs, Julio Borbon launched just his second home run of the season, but his second in six games, to put the Rangers on top for good at 4-2. "His first at-bat, he was struggling on changeups," Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf said of Borbon. "But I threw better changeups the first at-bat. I didn't throw a very good one that time. Ideally, I would have thrown a better changeup." But the homer wouldn't have come without the aid of Hamilton. In the 17 straight games in which he has hit safely, Hamilton has batted .485 (33-68) with eight home runs, six doubles and 24 RBIs. "It's amazing the stretch he's going through as far as the numbers he's been able to put up this month," Borbon said. "I'm still in awe by looking at them. And the way he goes about it, to go out there and enjoy it and have fun. "I'm able to be able to be a part of it next to him in the outfield. We share thoughts about things. He's enjoying this stretch. It's something for him to remember, and he's helping us out as a ballclub." With the Rangers out in front, Hamilton got to work on the defensive end. After Pirates right fielder Lastings Milledge laced a double at Hamilton, Ryan Doumit rounded third in an attempt to cut the deficit in half. But Hamilton fired to cutoff man Elvis Andrus, who threw home to record the out. "That's what it is. That's what these guys do," starting pitcher Tommy Hunter said. "They work on it every once in a while, team fundamentals and stuff. Today, they put it to use, and it worked. They were good throws. "He gets a ball off the wall, throws it in, got the good relay and threw it home. It doesn't get much better than that." The Pirates scored in the next at-bat on an RBI double by Bobby Crosby, but that didn't stop Hamilton. In the bottom half of the frame, he instantly got the run back with a solo home run to right field, his team-leading 17th. That proved to be enough for Hunter, who picked up his third win of the season by throwing six innings and giving up three runs on nine hits with six strikeouts. It provided an eerie occurrence for Hunter, as Hamilton has now homered in all four of the right-hander's starts this season. "I told him to pitch every day," Hamilton said. "He said he and [Washington] had talked about maybe him starting every game and throwing one pitch and then coming out. Then he'd still be good on his fifth day. Yeah, he messes with me every day." Said Hunter: "I'd like to start a few more times to let him hit. It's just one of those things we can joke about. ... I said, 'Why don't you start hitting two home runs instead of one every time I throw?' " After Nelson Cruz added a sacrifice fly in the eighth, Neftali Feliz closed it out, recording his American League-leading 20th save, reaching the mark third-fastest in team history. Hamilton still was able to steal the show, recording the final out on a sharp lineout. "You don't necessarily remember streaks," Hamilton said. "The biggest thing is trying to stay consistent. Obviously, you're not going to have months like this all of the time, but if you can squeak out a hit every once in awhile, that's what you're trying to do."
Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.