Rangers cap 3-game sweep of Royals with 8-7 win
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers put together quite a winning formula: a couple of solid pitching performances, a few more home runs and a couple of 40-something left-handers saving games.
Then again, they always beat the Kansas City Royals at home.
C.J. Wilson struck out 10 in seven innings, Adrian Beltre hit one of Texas' three homers and 41-year-old Arthur Rhodes saved it as the Rangers completed a three-game weekend sweep over the Royals with an 8-7 victory Sunday.
"As of right now, we're playing great," said David Murphy, who had a three-run double that proved to be the difference. "A few days ago, we were up and down. It's good to get back on track. We need to continue."
Kansas City (12-10) has lost eight straight on the road against the Rangers, dating to the 2009 season. The Royals arrived in Texas as the only team in the majors that hadn't lost a series this season.
Mike Napoli and Andres Blanco also homered for Texas (14-7), which again has the best record in the American League. The Rangers had lost six of eight before this series.
Rhodes got the final out for his first save since 2008 to become the oldest pitcher to get a save for Texas. That came only a day after 40-year-old Darren Oliver had set that mark by closing out a 3-1 victory in which first-year starter Alexi Ogando didn't give up a run until the seventh inning.
With regular closer Neftali Feliz on the disabled list because of shoulder inflammation, the Rangers are going closer by committee.
Texas won the series opener with five homers in an 11-6 victory on Friday night.
Wilson (3-0) overcame giving up his first two homers of the season with his third career double-digit strikeout game. The crafty left-hander walked only one batter while giving up eight hits and four runs on another windy day at Rangers Ballpark, and still left less than satisfied.
"I have to pitch a lot better. ... I'm not anywhere near where I want to be," Wilson said. "I'm giving up too many hits."
Wilson hadn't allowed a homer in 35 innings over six starts dating to last season before Jeff Francoeur's two-out solo shot in the fourth that hit high off the pole down the left-field line. Mike Aviles' game-tying 409-foot homer landed on the hill in center field an inning later on an 85 mph pitch Wilson said he left over the middle of the plate.
"You have to go out there and keep your team in the game when you don't have your best stuff, and that's what he did," manager Ron Washington said. "We were able to put some runs on the board to give him a little cushion. They battled them the whole day. That team over there can swing the bat. They keep coming and keep coming and keep coming, see what they did right there in the ninth inning."
Aviles homered twice, including a three-run shot with two outs in the ninth off Brett Tomko that set the stage for Rhodes.
All three Texas homers came off Bruce Chen (3-1), who had won seven consecutive decisions over his previous 11 starts. The left-hander gave up six runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings.
"He wasn't sharp today, but he really battled," manager Ned Yost said. "He was out there competing with everything he had, just couldn't get the ball down."
Napoli led off the second with his fifth homer of the season. Beltre led off the fourth with his seventh, tying for the AL lead and putting the Rangers up 2-1 and picking up his league-leading 20th RBI.
After the Royals evened it in the fifth on Aviles' first homer, Texas sent 10 batters to the plate while scoring six times in the bottom half.
"I felt good," Chen said. "They are a very good team, very tough."
The Rangers outburst began with a rare homer from Blanco, the utility infielder playing only his fourth game this season. He pulled the first pitch of the inning down the left-field line, a 348-foot shot for only his second homer in 203 career major league games. It was his first in two seasons with Texas.
After a pair of walks, Michael Young stretched his hitting streak to 14 games with an RBI single that made it 4-2 and chased Chen. Reliever Jeremy Jeffress walked two more batters, including Napoli with the bases loaded, before Murphy cleared them with a double into the left-center gap.
Francoeur's homer extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Alex Gordon has an 18-game hitting streak after a leadoff double in the eighth.
Aviles lined the second pitch of the game into left field for a sharp single before Wilson struck out the next three hitters. Kansas City had two on in the second before Alcides Escobar lined into a double play.
The Royals got two runs in the seventh when No. 9 hitter Chris Getz had an RBI single following doubles by Wilson Betemit and Escobar.
Tomko took over for Wilson starting the eighth for his first major league appearance since Sept. 14, 2009, when he three a five-hit shutout for Oakland at Rangers Ballpark. The right-hander had been recovering from a nerve problem in his arm.
Tomko went to spring training this year with Texas on a minor league deal and had his contract purchased from Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday.
NOTES: Wilson's career high is 12 strikeouts, against Baltimore last Aug. 20. ... The Rangers are 10-2 at home. Their next four games are home against Toronto. ... It was the first career multihomer game for Aviles. ... Blanco played for Texas SS Elvis Andrus, who got a day off after errors in three straight games. ... Blanco's other major league homer came July 29, 2009, for the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. ... Francoeur got ejected after arguing a called third strike that ended the eighth inning.