Rangers 11, Tigers 7
The Texas Rangers could very likely be the AL West champions by time they play their next game at home.
Texas (82-63) heads out on a 10-game trip with a season-high 10-game division lead and its magic number at eight after an 11-7 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night, and Oakland's loss at Kansas City. The Rangers have won a majors-best seven games in a row.
''We've set ourselves up,'' manager Ron Washington said. ''Now we've got to go continue playing our brand of baseball. I like our brand of baseball.''
After sweeping three games last weekend against the New York Yankees, winning a pair of marathon games in their final at-bat, the Rangers overcame early deficits in both games against Detroit.
David Murphy, Vladimir Guerrero and Ian Kinsler hit long home runs in what might have been their last game at Rangers Ballpark before clinching their first division title since 1999.
''Obviously you get to a point where you start thinking about it,'' Kinsler said. ''But everyone in here understands that it can turn into a lot of work and we don't want that to happen. We want to continue to play the way we are right now, and try to close this thing out as fast as possible.''
After their final off day of the regular season Thursday, the Rangers open their trip against AL West foes with three games against Seattle and the Los Angeles Angels before four games in Oakland. Their next home game is Sept. 27 against Seattle, the start of a seven-game homestand heading into the postseason.
Texas built an 8-2 lead in the fourth on Murphy's three-run homer. The 426-foot blast into the second deck of seats in right by Murphy chased Armando Galarraga (4-6), who had already allowed Guerrero's 449-foot homer deep into the visitors bullpen in left-center to start the second.
It was another frustrating night for Detroit, which blew a 4-1 lead Tuesday when Texas scored the last 10 runs of that game.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland got ejected by home plate umpire Jerry Layne at the end of the fourth inning Wednesday after saying something from the dugout. Leyland then came out for an extended and sometimes animated discussion.
''We didn't play our best baseball in this series and he got frustrated with some of the calls,'' Tigers catcher Gerald Laird said. ''He's going to back his team up. We have all the respect in the world for him. He felt like he needed to take a stand. That got us going and we battled back.''
Colby Lewis (11-12) went six innings to win his second straight start after needing 10 chances to finally get his 10th victory. The right-hander gave up five runs on four hits and three walks while making two fielding errors, his throwing miscue leading to three unearned runs.
Galarraga gave up a season-high eight runs, seven of them earned. It was the shortest start of the season for the right-hander who had a perfect game taken away by a blown umpire's call in June.
Ryan Raburn homered, doubled twice and drove in four runs for Detroit. Miguel Cabrera had a pair of sacrifice flies.
Raburn's 13th homer, a solo shot in the seventh, got the Tigers within 9-7 before Kinsler hit his two-run homer to straightaway center in the bottom of the inning.
''We played well, we battled,'' Michael Young said. ''Our energy level was up. We had to come back in a lot of these games in order to win. We're right where we want to be. We're not satisfied, but definitely happy with our effort level.''
Raburn's double in the first off the top of the 14-foot wall in left drove in a run to make it 2-0. The ball hit the wall's padding in play and bounced back on the field, though Leyland argued it might be a home run and umpires looked at the replay to confirm their call.
After Guerrero's 27th homer and 107th RBI of the season to start the second, Nelson Cruz doubled and scored when Kinsler had a sacrifice bunt that turned into a throwing error by catcher Alex Avila.
The Rangers went ahead to stay after Elvis Andrus and Young opened the third with consecutive singles. Andrus scored the tiebreaking run when Murphy had what was essentially a swinging bunt that was fielding near by the first-base line by Galarraga, who then threw the ball into Murphy's back for an error.
Murphy's homer an inning later stretched his career-best hitting streak to 13 games.
Detroit scored three times in the fifth, all the runs coming after Lewis fielded a comebacker, then turned to throw the ball to second. He instead threw it well wide of the bag into the center field, the second time he has done that this season.
Notes: Cabrera had his majors-best 45th double in the third, then shoved Kinsler, who applied a tag when Cabrera didn't slide into the base and almost overran it. Nothing else happened and the two later were cutting up with each other. ... Kinsler, appealing a one-game suspension for taking part in an on-field postgame celebration after being ejected, said he thought the suspension would be dropped. ... It was the second game in a row umpires looked at replay after Leyland argued. In Tuesday night's game it was for Murphy's home run down the right-field line that was upheld.