Price chased early as Rangers edge Rays
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Adrian Beltre extended his hot seven-game streak into another week.
Beltre was 3 for 3 with a home run and four RBIs, including driving in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth inning, to lead the Texas Rangers to a 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.
Elvis Andrus scored on Beltre’s single to give the AL West leaders a series-opening win. Nelson Cruz also homered and Mike Olt added an RBI for Texas.
Derek Holland (9-6) got the win, giving up five runs — three earned — on six hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked one.
Beltre, who was selected AL player of the week after a three-homer game and another in which he hit for the cycle, is hitting .385 with six homers and 13 RBIs in his last eight games.
“He’s locked in,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We need everything he’s giving us right now. He’s one of the guys in our lineup that makes it work.”
Relievers Alexi Ogando and Mike Adams, and closer Joe Nathan struck out six of the nine hitters they faced in working perfect seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Nathan earned his 23rd consecutive save opportunity and 26th this season.
Tampa Bay ace David Price (16-5) snapped a stretch of 12 consecutive quality starts in which he had pitched at least seven innings. The lefty, who entered with a majors-low 2.28 ERA and tied for the league lead for victories, didn’t make it to the fifth, giving up six runs on 10 hits in four innings.
In eight career regular-season starts against the Rangers, Price is 1-3 with a 6.04 ERA. In four starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, his ERA is 10.26.
“I didn’t feel like I was throwing the ball any different than I was during the stretch where I’ve been successful,” Price said. “It’s Texas, they’re a good-hitting team, and they’re feeling it right now.”
The Rangers continually jumped on first-pitch fastballs.
“We were trying to look for a pitch we could handle,” said Beltre, noting that Price likes to get ahead of hitters. “He comes after hitters, so we were ready.”
The Rays entered with the AL’s best road record (35-27), but found they were no match for Beltre.
Beltre, who reached base a fourth time with a walk in the seventh, and Cruz had back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the second to erase a 2-0 deficit — the first time Price has allowed consecutive homers in his career.
Olt’s groundout to shortstop Ben Zobrist drove in the Rangers’ third run.
Beltre’s double with no outs in the third scored Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton to make the score 5-3. Price was able to limit the damage by retiring the next three hitters on two groundouts and a strikeout of Geovany Soto.
Over his last 65 games, Beltre is hitting .332 with 15 homers, 14 doubles and 44 RBIs.
“I don’t know,” Beltre said when asked if he’s ever had a streak like the past eight games. “Probably. I don’t keep track. Right now, I feel good. I feel comfortable, and have confidence offensively.”
B.J. Upton’s run-scoring triple and Zobrist’s RBI single tied the score at 5-all in the fifth.
An error led to two unearned runs for the Rays in the first inning.
Upton reached base on a fielding miscue by Andrus at short, who then dropped a potential double play relay on the next hitter, Ben Zobrist, who reached on a fielder’s choice.
Evan Longoria, who was 2 for 4, then took a 3-2 pitch deep off the left-field foul pole for a home run.
“We screwed up the first inning,” Washington said, “but the offenses wouldn’t stop.”
The Rays’ Nos. 5-9 hitters went 0 for 18 with eight strikeouts.
NOTES: With the home run and a single, Longoria is hitting .435 (10 for 23) lifetime against Rangers starter Holland. … Beltre has had 25 or more home runs in seven seasons. … Price led the major leagues in ERA and tied for most wins entering Monday’s game. In the last 50 years, only eight pitchers Sandy Koufax (1963, `65-66), Jim Palmer (1975), Ron Guidry (1978), Dwight Gooden (1985), Bret Saberhagen (1989), Greg Maddux (1995), Pedro Martinez (1999) and Johan Santana (2006) have finished the season leading the majors in both categories — and all have won the Cy Young.