SAN DIEGO (AP) — It didn’t take long to see the effect Josh Hamilton has on the Texas Rangers.
After missing four starts with an illness, Hamilton returned in a big way Tuesday night with a two-run triple to lift the Rangers to a 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Hamilton, who leads the major leagues with 66 RBIs, went 2 for 5 and scored two runs as the Rangers extended their winning streak to five games.
“I knew I was going to be tired,” Hamilton said. “After I spent time on the bases, I was literally spent the rest of the game. But it will be better.”
After Hamilton tripled in the third and scored on Adrian Beltre’s sacrifice fly, he said, “It took me about three innings to catch my breath.”
Hamilton had not started a game since Thursday due to an intestinal virus that caused him to lose 10 pounds as he was briefly hospitalized Friday.
But despite being at “about 80 to 85 percent,” Hamilton set the stage for the rest of his teammates, who were coming off a 2-1 win over the Padres on Monday night where they were held to five hits.
“From that point on, swinging the bat got contagious,” Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Nelson Cruz and Beltre both drove in two runs as the Rangers finished with 12 hits to win for the eighth time in nine games.
“It makes a big difference having him in the middle of our lineup,” Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “He helps make us go, and you saw that.”
Scott Feldman (1-6) broke a six-start losing streak to avoid becoming the Rangers’ first pitcher to lose his first seven decisions in 30 years.
Feldman, who had his first career RBI, pitched six innings and allowed two runs and seven hits. The right-hander did not walk a batter and struck out five, including Carlos Quentin three times.
“He’s been battling to go out there and have a good game and he finally did it,” Washington said.
Hamilton made his presence felt in the third inning when he tripled in two runs off Edinson Volquez (3-7) and scored on the sacrifice fly as Texas took a 3-1 lead.
“We have seen it in spring training,” Padres manager Bud Black said about Hamilton. “To see it live in a regular season game, he’s an impressive player. He’s truly a five-tool player.”
Hamilton faced Volquez for the first time since they were the principals in a 2007 trade that sent Hamilton from Cincinnati to Texas.
Volquez failed to get an out in the sixth inning as he allowed six runs and five hits with six strikeouts and four walks.
Kinsler singled with one out in the third and Elvis Andrus walked before Hamilton hit a ball into the right-center field gap to put the Rangers ahead 2-0. It was Hamilton’s first triple of the season.
“It was cool because I didn’t try to do too much with (my swing),” Hamilton said.
He then scored on Beltre’s sacrifice fly to medium right field, easily beating the throw from Will Venable.
After Hamilton singled and Beltre doubled to start the sixth, Cruz followed with a two-run double to knock out Volquez.
“He’s a great hitter,” Volquez said about Hamilton. “You can’t make a mistake and that’s what I did. I got him two strikes twice and then gave him a pitch to hit.”
Beltre hit his 12th homer in the seventh off Brad Brach when he hit the foul pole in the short right-field porch. The umpires briefly reviewed the replay before ruling the ball a home run.
Feldman, who drove in his first career RBI with a single in the sixth, allowed only Nick Hundley’s run-scoring single in second and an RBI groundout by Yonder Alonso in the sixth.
NOTES: Hamilton played in the Rangers’ 2-1 win on Monday night as a defensive replacement but did not bat. … Texas 1B Mitch Moreland came out of the game in the second with a left hamstring strain after he grounded into a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play. … Texas (42-27) is a season-high 15 games over .500. … Volquez was 3-11 with a 7.20 ERA in 20 games with Texas between 2005-07. … 1B Brad Hawpe requested and was granted his release from Texas’ Double-A affiliate, Frisco. According to a Rangers spokesman, Hawpe said he was taking a roster spot from someone potentially going to the majors. … Texas RHP Yu Darvish (8-4, 3.57) will face Padres RHP Anthony Bass (2-7, 4.88) in the in the finale of the three-game series on Wednesday.