Adrian Beltre tossed off his batting helmet, covered his head with both hands and jumped into the middle of what has been a common scene this week for the Texas Rangers.
Beltre even came out of the celebration at home plate with his shirt hanging around his waist.
The homer by Beltre leading off the ninth gave the Rangers a 2-1 victory Wednesday night over the Los Angeles Angels, completing a three-game series sweep in which Texas won each on game-ending home runs.
”Being able to walk off three times in a row, and our offense has been the reason why we struggled the last few weeks, and our offense is getting a lot better,” Beltre said.
”And it starts with me. I haven’t been swinging the bat real well, hitting in the middle of the lineup and not doing my job, but the last couple of games have been better and hopefully it creates that for everybody.”
There was no doubt about another dramatic victory for the Rangers when Michael Kohn (1-1) left a 2-2 pitch over the middle of the plate. Beltre hit it deep into the left-field seats for his 23rd homer.
”It was supposed to be down and away, but I left it middle in,” said Kohn, who didn’t even have to turn around to know the ball was going over the wall.
Texas had been shut out in three of its previous four games, and swept at Cleveland last weekend, before having three consecutive games end on homers for the first time in team history.
”It’s overwhelming really,” manager Ron Washington said. ”We just kept battling, and you know when we’re at our best, this is what you get. Not three walk-off home runs, but the different people getting it done. And that’s what we need, is different people getting it done.”
Texas won the series opener Monday night when A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto both homered in the ninth inning off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, Soto’s blast providing a 4-3 victory. Then on Tuesday, after trailing four times, the Rangers again scored in the ninth off Frieri and won 14-11 after Leonys Martin hit a three-run homer in the 10th.
According to Elias, the last team to win three consecutive games with game-ending homers was Detroit in June 2004. The last to sweep a three-game series in that fashion was Arizona over Montreal in May 1999.
Nelson Cruz also homered Wednesday night for the Rangers, his 25th making it 1-0 in the second.
Josh Hamilton connected for the only Angels run, a 422-foot blast to right-center in the seventh. His 16th homer tied the game.
Rangers closer Joe Nathan (3-1) struck out two and walked one in the top of the ninth to win for the second night in a row. He had last won consecutive games in August. 2005.
Jerome Williams of the Angels and rookie Martin Perez for Texas, the starting pitchers, each allowed only one run while pitching into the eighth. Both had been struggling before their duel.
”We’re not looking back on all three. We’re just looking back at tonight,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ”We didn’t do enough to support Jerome, who really pitched well. Unfortunately, Perez outpitched him.”
Williams scattered eight hits over 7 2-3 innings with two walks and one strikeout. The right-hander, who had an 8.90 ERA and five losses his previous seven starts, left with two on in the eighth, when Kohn got Ian Kinsler on an inning-ending flyball.
Perez had allowed at least four earned runs in three consecutive starts. The lefty struck out four, walked two and allowed only four hits in 7 1-3 innings before Tanner Scheppers closed out the eighth.
Cruz is among several players waiting to find out if they will be suspended by Major League Baseball in its investigation related to the Biogenesis case. Discipline is expected to be announced by the end of the weekend, which means Thursday’s makeup at home against Arizona could be his last home game for the Rangers, depending on the timing and length of any suspension.
The All-Star right fielder, who is eligible for free agency after the season, leads the Rangers with 25 homers and 73 RBIs.
”Very impressed,” Washington said. ”He’s been a model citizen, to be going through what’s he going through and able to do (what he’s doing). … He’s been very good leaving whatever issue he has on the outside, and you’ve got to commend him for that.”
Notes: The game took only 2 hours, 30 minutes to play. A night earlier, it took 4 hours, 46 minutes for 10 innings. … The Rangers’ game against Arizona on Thursday is the makeup of a May 29 game that was postponed because of unplayable field conditions after the grounds crew was unable to get the tarp in place during a severe thunderstorm before the game. … Martin and Elvis Andrus had consecutive hits to start the Rangers first, but both were retired on the bases. Martin was thrown out trying to go to third on a single by Andrus, who then picked off at first base by catcher Chris Iannetta. Andrus’ 13-game hitting streak is the longest active in the majors.