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Cruz ends slump with career night

Nelson Cruz drives in eight after only driving one in his past 11 games.
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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)

Nelson Cruz got his boomstick back in a big way for the Texas Rangers.

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Cruz broke out of an extended slump with a career-high eight RBIs, driving in runs with hits in each of his four at-bats, while Colby Lewis took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in the Rangers' 12-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.

After getting only one RBI his previous 11 games, Cruz put the Rangers ahead to stay with a run-scoring double in the second. The slugger later had multiple RBIs in three consecutive innings.

''Everybody else has been picking us up. We've been waiting for Nelson to get going, and tonight he got going,'' manager Ron Washington said. ''When Nelson gets going, he can do exactly what he did. He can hit the ball hard and hit it far.''

Cruz added his 22nd homer, a three-run shot, in the fourth off Jo-Jo Reyes (5-8). Cruz, who had hit only .186 (8 for 43) his previous 12 games, greeted Shawn Camp with a two-out single in the fifth, then added another two-run single off the reliever in the sixth.

''It could be a huge boost for Nelson,'' Washington said.

Cruz has 64 RBIs in his 81 games this season. But he had only seven RBIs in 16 games since matching his previous career-high with six on July 1 in a 15-5 victory over Florida.

''I don't think I've been on top of my game yet,'' Cruz said. ''I always believe that this part of the game is when I'm getting more ready. Hopefully good things keep coming.''

It was the second eight-RBI game in the majors this season, and the most for the Rangers since Ivan Rodriguez set a team record with nine at Seattle on April 13, 1999. Ben Zobrist had eight RBIs for Tampa Bay at Minnesota on April 28.

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Lewis (10-7) allowed one run and two hits over 6 2-3 innings to become the third Rangers starter to win 10 games this season. Only one other time in the franchise's 51 seasons have the Rangers had three 10-game winners before the end of July.

It was the fifth straight victory - over seven starts - for Lewis, matching his career-best. The right-hander struck out five and walked two, those being the only runners he allowed the first five innings.

''Getting a huge offensive production, I was able to go out and just kind of pound the strike zone,'' Lewis said. ''Nellie Cruz tonight, that's awesome. Anytime you get that type of production, it's pretty easy to pitch.''

His no-hit bid ended when J.P. Arencibia snapped his 0-for-16 slide with a 398-foot homer to left field leading off the sixth. It was the AL-high 24th homer allowed this season by Lewis.

Arencibia led off the eighth with another homer, his 14th of the season.

''I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about the runs we gave up,'' said Arencibia, the Toronto catcher. ''My job is to give our team an opportunity to win the game, and they scored too many runs. ... I know I can hit. Everyone's going to struggle. But one of my duties is to keep those guys from hitting home plate, and obviously we didn't do that.''

Reyes gave up eight runs in 4 1-3 innings with three strikeouts and a walk. The left-hander was trying to win his third consecutive start.

Toronto was coming off a three-game sweep of Seattle and had won eight of its previous 10. The Blue Jays had won 10 of their last 13 games against Texas, including three of four at Rangers Ballpark in April.

Michael Young added four hits and four runs for the AL West-leading Rangers, who won for the 13th time in 15 games. They ended a two-game losing streak that came after winning 12 straight.

Adrian Beltre had two hits and walked during his three at-bats before leaving the game with a strained left hamstring sustained running from first to third on Young's single in the fifth.

Just before getting to third, Beltre cringed and pulled up slightly in an effort to take pressure off his leg. The All-Star third baseman reached back and grabbed the back of his leg above his knee after getting to the base.

Beltre will have an MRI on Saturday.

''I just felt like a really hard grab. It felt like it was going to tear my leg,'' Beltre said. ''I just hope it's not as bad as I felt, or what I thought it was, but I don't know. We're going to take an MRI and find out exactly what it is.''

Notes: It was only the fourth time a Ranger had at least eight RBIs. ... The other season Texas had three 10-win pitchers by the end of July was 1979, with Fergie Jenkins, Steve Comer and Jim Kern. All of Kern's wins came as a reliever, meaning this is the first time the Rangers have accomplished that with three starters. ... Toronto leadoff hitter Yunel Escobar finished 0 for 4, ending his career-best streak of reaching base 25 consecutive games. ... Arencibia's second homer came off Arthur Rhodes, the 41-year-old left-hander making his first appearance since July 4. ... Young's four runs matched a career-high, and were the most by a Texas player this season.

Tagged: Rangers, Blue Jays, Michael Young, Adrian Beltre, Colby Lewis, Nelson Cruz, J.P. Arencibia

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