Beltre, Moreland highlight Rangers’ big night

ARLINGTON, Texas – You know things are going good offensively for the Texas Rangers when Adrian Beltre slams three homers in a game and has to share the team RBI lead on the night.

That was the case Wednesday as the Rangers crushed Baltimore 12-3 behind Beltre’s blasts and a five-RBI night from Mitch Moreland.

On the five-year anniversary of a record-setting 30-3 win over Baltimore, the Rangers scored nine runs in a fourth inning that saw Beltre homer twice and they moved a season high 21 games over .500 for the fourth time this season.

While Beltre fell shy of matching teammate Josh Hamilton’s four-homer performance from earlier this year against Baltimore, he did become just the second player in club history to have a two-homer inning and ended a power drought that saw him homer in just one of the last 29 games.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Beltre. “I finally had a good game offensively. I had been kind of struggling for a couple weeks. I wasn’t able to drive the ball. Today was a good day. I hit the ball hard in the air.”

On a night when Texas pounded out 14 hits and reached double figures in runs for the 17th time this year, it was Beltre who got things started. He homered off former Rangers pitcher Tommy Hunter in the second to put Texas up 1-0. He broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run homer off Hunter in the fourth inning.

That started an inning in which Texas sent 12 batters to the plate. Mitch Moreland had the big blow with a grand slam off Hunter. Beltre capped the scoring with a two-run homer off Kevin Gregg as the Rangers took a commanding 10-1 lead.

While Moreland had his first career grand slam and matched his career high with five RBI, he knows he took a backseat to Beltre.

“That was unbelievable,” said Moreland, who lost a grand slam to a rainout last season. “He was locked in tonight. He hit three different pitches. Down and away, up and one kind of middle in. He really covered the ball well tonight, so that was unbelievable.”

After hitting his second homer, Beltre said he was trying for more. He did it in his third at-bat but then grounded out to third in his fourth and then grounded into a double play in the bottom of the eighth. His teammates were hoping he could join Hamilton in the four-homer club.

“They weren’t giving me advice but they were telling me, ‘You’ve got two more at-bats do to it. Go do it.’ I hit a ground ball and they were talking smack to me, ‘C’mon, what are you doing hitting a ball on the ground?'”, said Beltre. “I tried to hit the ball in the air but I couldn’t. That last at-bat I was trying to do it again. It didn’t work out.”

Beltre and Moreland weren’t the lone Rangers to have big nights. David Murphy also had three hits and while Ian Kinsler and Michael Young had two.

Derek Holland also pitched well, going seven innings for his first victory since July 25. Holland allowed three runs and struck out five.

Manager Ron Washington liked everything he saw from his club Wednesday, especially from Beltre.

“Each of them helped us win a ballgame,” Washington said. “We were behind when he hit the first one and we just kept adding on. It was a fantastic night. I was hoping for him to get a fourth one also, but it didn’t work. Moreland swung the bat well. Murphy swung the bat well.”

While Beltre missed out on joining Hamilton, he did reach the 20-homer mark for the 10th time. He’s just the ninth third baseman in major-league history to have at least 10 20-homer seasons. He also is just the fifth player to have a three-homer game in the regular season as well as the postseason.

All of that is good, but the Beltre and the Rangers were greedy Wednesday. That included Hamilton, who went 5 for 5 with four homers, eight RBIs and 18 total bases in a May 8 game against the Orioles. He already had the perfect promotion in mind if Beltre would have hit homer No. 4 Wednesday.

“I told him to do it so we could have a figurine night,” said Hamilton. “Me on one and you on the other side. Four bombs. That would be pretty sweet wouldn’t it?”