Rangers start Houston series riding big win

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers did all they could Sunday to get their minds right for their crucial four-game series against the Houston Astros.

At least for a day the Rangers crossed off some questions on their checklist of recent woes in an 12-4 thumping of Oakland.

The Rangers pounded a left-handed starter, tagging Oakland’s Felix Doubront for seven runs in his 4 1/3 innings of work. In doing that, they got a little spark for an offense that’s been uneven as of late.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who had just five hits in his last 38 at-bats coming into the game, homered twice for the first time this season and also drove in a season high five runs. Prince Fielder, who has also been in a slump, chipped in a pair of hits as part of the 12-hit effort.

And Texas also got a solid spot start from Chi Chi Gonzalez, whose 5 1/3 innings of three-run ball enabled the Rangers to get their rotation where they wanted for the series against Houston.

Now it’s time to bring on the Astros, who bring a 1 ½ game lead to Arlington.

"Today was a grind," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "We talk about not looking ahead, not getting ahead of ourselves and staying focused on today. We have done a tremendous job at that, our guys have stayed focused on today’s game, but they’re well aware of the next four days."

The Rangers Sunday showed there’s still some pop in the bats too, despite coming into the outing as losers of three of four games with two of those losses shutouts.

But the Rangers put together a big five-run fifth inning after already leading 3-0 and kept going from there. Texas matches its season high with four home runs and took advantage of eight walks too. Texas also got hits from eight different players.

That kind of offensive effort can only help the Texas cause with the Astros coming to town.

"It was a good game for everybody," said Beltre, who had his first two-homer game of the season and also set a season high with five RBI. "It was a good game all around for our offense. We were kind of slipping for the last couple of games. Today was a good awakening. Everybody contributed and it was just nice to see. It’s big to take that to tomorrow’s game."

Beltre swatted a two-run homer in the fourth inning and then came back with a three-run shot in the fifth. 

The offense made it easier for Gonzalez to focus on the Oakland hitters. The Athletics didn’t get on the scoreboard until the fifth inning and only one of the runs allowed by Gonzalez was earned.

Gonzalez got the spot start so Texas could use Cole Hamels against Houston, and the rookie did his part to make the move look like a good one. He said he wasn’t worried about pitching in a playoff race either.

"I didn’t try to think about it at all," he said. "I just take it as another outing and control what I could control. After that first inning I just tried to get the ball and go. Offense did well and scored me runs and played defense well, too."

Things got sloppy from the fifth on, as the Rangers needed five pitchers to record the final 11 outs but the end result set the stage for the series against Houston.

"It’s going to be a good series and hopefully we come in with the same mindset that we had today," said Beltre. "We need to win the game however we can, offense, pitching, whatever it takes. Hopefully we can come out on top."