Texas offense continues to show signs of life

ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas starter Justin Grimm wasn’t perfect Wednesday night against the Oakland Athletics.

But for the first time this month, the Texas offense was able help out a starter.

The Rangers scored nine times, their highest offensive output of the month, and rolled to a rare 9-4 easy victory. Texas had won its first five games of the month by a total of nine runs.

Grimm became the first Texas starter to get a win since Derek Holland beat Kansas City May 31, a club-record streak of 17 games. He allowed three runs in his five innings and left the mound in the middle of the fifth with the Rangers trailing 3-2.

But Wednesday wasn’t like most of June has been for the Texas offense.

The Rangers answered Oakland’s three runs in the top up of the fifth with two of their own in the bottom of the frame. Then Texas did something else it hasn’t done this month, — put together a big inning in the sixth. Texas scored four times, its biggest inning since a four spot in the May 31 game against the Royals.

The Rangers have now scored 19 runs in the first three games of the series, and Wednesday they worked the four Oakland pitchers for 167 pitches.

“We just kept grinding,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “The other night when we came out and won the ballgame (8-7 Monday), we got back to playing the way we knew we could play. Tonight we made (Tommy) Milone throw some pitches and we battled him and we had a big hit to start it off with (Lance) Berkman and the rest of the lineup kept going, kept going, kept going.”

The 14 hits for the Rangers were also a June high. The Rangers got production from everywhere too. A struggling David Murphy had his first three-hit game of the year. A struggling Berkman gave the Rangers their first runs of the game with a two-run homer in the second inning.

Leonys Martin, who has been the team’s hottest hitter, had another two-hit night. Nelson Cruz had two RBI and three hits. Ian Kinsler had a pair of RBI and Adrian Beltre added one.

It was that kind of night for the Rangers — a night that was a long time in coming.

“Today it was there,” said Cruz, who batted third and had an RBI infield single in the sixth. “We’ve got to bring that same intensity tomorrow. It was a team effort and the whole team did his part. Justin also threw the ball well and the bullpen did its job. We feel good about ourselves and we feel like everything is on a roll right now.”

The roll seemed to stop in the fifth inning after Grimm walked two batters and then allowed a three-run homer to Chris Young, turning a 2-0 Texas lead into a 3-2 deficit.

But the Rangers answered right back off Milone, with Murphy and Martin opening the bottom of the fifth with hits and Kinsler and Cruz picking up RBI.

Texas then sent nine batters to the plate in the sixth with Martin, Kinsler, Cruz and Adrian Beltre picking up RBI.

If the Rangers can continue to spread things around, it will take the pressure off a starting staff that came into the game with a 6.48 ERA in the last 15 games.

Grimm knows he was the beneficiary on the night.

“This win goes to our offense,” said Grimm, who improved to 6-5. “They came back and helped me out, picked me up, after that pitch (the Young homer). They didn’t get down after that, they went ahead. That’s good to see, for sure.”

Murphy and Martin batted eighth and ninth in the order and went a combined 5 for 7 with four runs scored as Murphy raised his batting average from .209 to .218.

“Obviously guys hit in the top of the order and the middle of the lineup for a reason,” said Murphy. “They are your best hitters in your lineup and your run producers. We’ve got a great lineup and if any lineup can produce from the bottom and set the table for the top and the big boys in the middle, we’re going to have a lot more nights like we did tonight.”