Rangers 4, Royals 3

David Murphy had three hits and Nelson Cruz drove in two runs,

yet their late-inning catches in the outfield drew the most praise

in the Texas clubhouse.

”The defense was outstanding,” Rangers manager Ron Washington

said after a 4-3 win over Kansas City on Wednesday night. ”Murphy

and Cruzie just saved the game for us.”

Rookie Mitch Moreland homered again as the Rangers increased

their division lead to 9 1/2 games over Oakland, which lost in New

York.

With two Royals on base in the sixth, Murphy made an exceptional

catch on Gregor Blanco’s fly down the left-field line to the

warning track.

”Murphy made a great play on Blanco, that’s two runs,” Royals

manager Ned Yost said. ”That absolutely saved the game for

them.”

Said Murphy: ”We know he tries to slap the ball the other way

so we were playing the lines. I didn’t think it was going to carry

as much as it did, but I got there at the last second and stretched

and reached out and got it.”

In the ninth, Wilson Betemit and Billy Butler each sent Cruz to

the right-field wall to make catches, allowing rookie Neftali Feliz

to record his 34th save in 37 opportunities.

”They both smoked the ball,” Yost said. ”I thought they both

had a chance to go out. The outfielders were playing so deep. Billy

just scalded it.”

Said Butler: ”Almost every other park you can almost put it on

the board, but not in this one. All that resulted in was a save for

Feliz, instead of a tie game. The guy is throwing 100 miles per

hour and I put the barrel on it. We play in the biggest park in the

league, if not the biggest.”

”A lot of parks, Wilson’s is gone, too. In Texas, we may have

two home runs hit back-to-back. We’re not playing in Texas, so it’s

two outs,” he said.

Cruz said he knew he Butler’s long drive all the way.

”I think it probably wouldn’t have gone over, maybe it would

have gone off the top of the wall,” he said. ”He hit it pretty

good. We put a lot of emphasis on our defense in the

outfield.”

Moreland homered for the second straight game, leading off the

sixth inning with a shot that made it 4-2. He has five home runs in

his first 25 big league games.

”I’m just doing what I can,” Moreland said. ”I’m trying to

work better at-bats. I’ve been struggling to get my pitch. I just

need to go back to my gameplan and be short to the ball.”

Tommy Hunter (12-2) allowed two runs on seven hits and four

walks in 5 2-3 innings.

Elvis Andrus walked, Murphy singled and Cruz hit a two-out,

two-run single in the first off Bryan Bullington (1-4).

The Royals manufactured a run in the third. Brayan Pena led off

with a bunt single, Mitch Maier singled, Blanco sacrificed and Mike

Aviles had a sacrifice fly.

Moreland walked in the fourth and scored on Andres Blanco’s.

Yuniesky Betancourt, who hit seven home runs in August, hit his

career-high 15th homer in the Royals fourth.

Aviles and Betancourt doubled in the seventh, pulling the Royals

to 4-3.

Bullington gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.

After allowing two hits in eight scoreless innings Aug. 15 against

the Yankees for his first big league victory, Bullington has

allowed 17 runs on 28 hits in 14 2-3 innings.

Gil Meche, who was reinstated from the disabled list before the

game, worked a scoreless ninth for the Royals. He gave up a single

in his first relief appearance since Oct. 1, 2005, while with the

Seattle Mariners.

NOTES: Rangers OF Josh Hamilton, who tops the majors with a .361

batting average, was held out of the lineup after receiving a shot

Tuesday in his sore right knee. … Royals manager Ned Yost said

with C Jason Kendall scheduled for right shoulder surgery Friday,

Pena and Lucas May would share the catching duties. The recovery

time for Kendall’s surgery is eight to 10 months. … Rangers 2B

Ian Kinsler, who has been on the disabled list since July 28 with a

left groin strain, was activated, but said he would not be at full

strength until next year.