Published November 20, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tommy Hunter pitched a five-hitter in his season debut, Josh Hamilton homered and the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 on Saturday.
Hunter (1-0), who was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma earlier in the day, struck out four and didn't issue a walk. He retired 14 of the last 16 batters he faced for his second career complete game.
Hunter began the season on the 15-day DL because of a left oblique strain he sustained in spring training, and he began a minor league rehab stint on April 28.
After going 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA in six starts for Oklahoma City, Hunter on Saturday assumed the rotation spot of left-hander Derek Holland, placed on the 15-day disabled list last Tuesday due to left rotator cuff inflammation.
Hunter's other complete game came against Seattle on Sept. 13, 2009.
Hamilton continued his hot June with a two-run blast in the first, and is 10 for 22 this month to raise his average from .281 to .299.
Sean Rodriguez homered for the Rays, who've lost eight of their last 12 but maintained a two-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East.
Elvis Andrus, who had two hits and two RBIs, led off the first against James Shields (5-4) with a double. Andrus went to third on Shields' wild pitch, and scored when Ian Kinsler's hot grounder glanced off Evan Longoria's glove at third base for an error.
Hamilton's homer later in the first made it 3-0, with all three runs unearned.
Rodriguez's solo homer in the second pulled Tampa Bay to 3-1, but Andrus' RBI ground-out in the second restored Texas' three-run advantage.
Tampa Bay designated hitter Hank Blalock had a baserunning gaffe in the second that cost the Rays a run. Blalock doubled, then inexplicably took off for third and was tagged out. Rodriguez, the next batter, homered.
Julio Borbon's suicide squeeze bunt in the sixth drove in David Murphy, and Andrus' RBI triple extended Texas' lead to 6-1.
Shields gave up six runs — three earned— and 10 hits in seven innings, losing for the fourth time in his last five decisions.
NOTES: Hunter threw 117 pitches. ... The Rangers optioned RHP Pedro Strop to Oklahoma City to open a roster spot for Hunter. ... Texas OF Nelson Cruz is running and taking batting practice in his rehab program from the hamstring strain that landed him on the 15-day DL for the second time this season. Cruz is on schedule to make two minor league starts next weekend, and the Rangers are targeting a June 15 game at Florida for Cruz's return. ... Holland threw off flat ground prior to the game and reported no discomfort in his shoulder. ... Tampa Bay C John Jaso batted leadoff for the first time in his career, going 0 for 4. ... Both teams took batting practice in the indoor cages to escape the heat. ... The original schedule called for a night game, but the start time was changed to mid-afternoon for Fox TV.