Banged-up Rangers conclude set with Indians

The Texas Rangers' most recent victory certainly came with an additional cost.

The Rangers limp into their three-game finale with the Cleveland Indians on Thursday likely without one of their key offensive contributors following Adrian Beltre's early exit on Wednesday.

Beltre, who leads the Rangers with a .318 average to go along with 32 homers and 92 RBI, sustained a shoulder injury after diving for a grounder in the second inning of yesterday's 5-2 victory. He stayed in the game until the fifth inning and had hit a two-run homer in the first inning.

He was scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday night and manager Ron Washington is hoping that his slugging third baseman won't miss more than a game or two after also seeing Josh Hamilton and Mike Olt exit early due to injury.

Things got complicated for Washington when Beltre's replacement at the hot corner, Olt, aggravated a right heel ailment later in the game. He was replaced by second baseman Ian Kinsler, who made his major league debut at third.

Michael Young, who was the designated hitter on Wednesday, is likely to start at third in the finale for the Rangers, who are also hoping to have Hamilton in the lineup following his exit because of left knee soreness that isn't believed to be serious. The outfielder leads all of baseball with 41 homers and 121 RBI.

Texas still managed to win for the fifth time in seven games as Hamilton homered and Ryan Dempster scattered two runs and eight strikeouts over seven innings.

"When you get runs early, it's got to give pitchers all the confidence in the world to go out and pound the strike zone," said Texas' David Murphy, who had three hits. "(Dempster) is a veteran pitcher who, when he gets a lead like he did tonight, he is going to pound the strike zone and get quick outs."

The win kept the Rangers three games ahead of the Oakland Athletics for first place in the AL West.

Carlos Santana and Casey Kotchman knocked in a run apiece for the Indians, who dropped their fifth in a row and lost for the 22nd time in their last 27 games.

Jeanmar Gomez was tagged in defeat for six hits and five runs over four full frames.

"He didn't have very good stuff and he couldn't locate his pitches either," Indians manager Manny Acta said about Gomez. "He's not the type of guy that can get away with not locating his pitches and they took advantage of it."

Scheduled Cleveland starter Zach McAllister wouldn't mind seeing some of Texas' big bats out of the lineup tonight after the way the offense beat him up on Sept. 2. McAllister gave up four homers in that loss, charged with seven runs and 11 hits over five innings. Jurickson Profar took him deep in the third inning, while Hamilton, Beltre and Murphy all added solo shots in the fifth in McAllister's first ever appearance versus the Rangers.

The right-handed McAllister then lost his third straight start on Saturday at the Minnesota Twins, yielding two runs on two hits and three walks over three innings, logging 87 pitches.

McAllister, 24, has given up 14 runs over 12 1/3 innings of his losing streak and is 5-7 with a 4.31 earned run average in 18 starts this year.

Texas will start Derek Holland, who won his third straight outing when he faced the Indians and McAllister at the beginning of the month. He gave up a pair of runs over seven innings and then did not factor into a 3-1 extra- inning loss at the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. The left-hander did his part, striking out a career-best 11 batters over eight innings of one-run, two-hit ball.

Holland, a 25-year-old lefty, is 10-6 with a 4.59 ERA on the season and owns a perfect career mark of 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five outings versus the Indians.

This series marks the first in Texas between the Rangers and Indians after they split six earlier encounters in Cleveland. Texas won nine of 10 versus Cleveland a season ago.