Hunter goes into 8th, Hamilton's gets 3 hits to help Rangers beat Athletics 7-3

Tommy Hunter pitched into the eighth inning, Josh Hamilton had his 24th three-hit game of the season, and the AL West-leading Texas Rangers pulled farther away from the Athletics with a 7-3 victory over Oakland on Friday night.

Hunter (11-2) improved to 7-0 in nine starts at Rangers Ballpark this season, allowing three runs and seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks before leaving with two outs in the seventh.

The Rangers increased their division advantage over the second-place A's to 9½ games.

Hamilton raised his major league-high average to .358 and demonstrated his speed in the first when he scored from second on an infield single.

Hamilton's dash home highlighted a three-run first off Brett Anderson (3-5). Hamilton doubled with two outs, then rounded third on Vladimir Guerrero's single off the glove of first baseman Barton. Second baseman Ellis retrieved the ball in short right field and fired to the plate, where Hamilton slid head-first ahead of catcher Kurt Suzuki's tag.

Hamilton also made a tough, running catch on the warning track in left field of a drive by Mark Ellis in the ninth.

Andres Blanco and Julio Borbon, the Nos. 8 and 9 batters in the Rangers order, added three hits each as Texas won for the fifth time in six games to maintain the largest lead in the majors.

Kevin Kouzmanoff had a two-run homer in the sixth and Daric Barton connected with the bases empty in the eighth for the A's, who've lost four of six.

Speed was a weapon for the Rangers again in the second with three straight infield singles, the last by Elvis Andrus to produce their fourth run.

Anderson was removed after two innings with a hyperextended right knee after allowing four runs and six hits. His right foot landed in a hole on the mound during his follow-through on a pitch to Borbon in the second.

Anderson fell awkwardly, and a trainer and manager Bob Geren ran into the field to check on Anderson.

After throwing a couple of practice pitches, Anderson remained in the game, but was replaced by Boof Bonser to begin the third.

Texas made it 7-0 in the fourth on Michael Young's two-run double and Hamilton's RBI single.

Rangers right-hander Frank Francisco left the game in the ninth with an arm problem after walking the leadoff man.

Francisco was making his first appearance since a cortisone shot in his right armpit on Monday.

NOTES: Rangers LHP Cliff Lee will take his regular turn Tuesday night in Kansas City despite an 8.39 ERA over his last four starts. The Rangers have considered extra rest for Lee, who's gone at least seven innings in 19 of his 23 starts this season. Lee says he doesn't need a break, and manager Ron Washington will go with the current rotation for now. ... Texas 2B Ian Kinsler will begin a four-game rehab assignment for Double-A Frisco on Saturday. Kinsler, out since July 29 with a strained left groin, is expected to be activated by Sept. 3 for a three-game series at Minnesota. ... RHP Ben Sheets joined his A's teammates for the first time since extensive surgery on his right elbow on Aug. 9, unsure of his future in baseball. He knows he probably won't be able to take the mound in 2011 as he faces a rehab of from 12 to 18 months. As for 2012, Sheets said he's open to resuming his career depending on his level of recovery. ... Texas 2B Cristian Guzman (strained right quad) and RHP Dustin Nippert (head bruise) started rehab assignments with Frisco on Friday night.