Rangers 8, Royals 7

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.