Rangers 8, Red Sox 4
When slow-footed Bengie Molina went to the plate needing a triple to hit for the cycle in cozy Fenway Park, his manager had a question for Michael Young.
''Where do you think he has to hit it for a triple?'' Ron Washington asked his third baseman. ''He said, `Nowhere in this ballpark.'''
Ian Kinsler, the last Texas Ranger to hit for the cycle, was equally pessimistic.
''I would have bet everything I own that Bengie Molina would never hit for the cycle,'' he said with a smile. ''Ever.''
Molina surprised them both and powered Texas to an 8-4 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night, becoming the eighth player and first catcher since 1900 to hit for the cycle with a grand slam. The last player to do that was Minnesota's Jason Kubel on April 17, 2009.
Molina completed his feat in the eighth inning when he hit Ramon Ramirez's pitch to the deepest part of Fenway into the center field triangle 420 feet from home. The ball bounced off the glove of Eric Patterson for only the sixth triple of Molina's career.
''When I saw the ball going away from him, I just put my head down and kept going,'' Molina said. ''For a guy who has been criticized for his speed for 11 1/2 years and may be the slowest guy in the world, it was an unbelievable feeling.''
Molina, obtained from the San Francisco Giants on July 1 to shore up a team weakness at catcher, looked over his right shoulder at Patterson as he rounded second and lumbered into third then smiled at teammates in the dugout. A few pitches later, he left the game with tightness in his right quadriceps after slipping rounding first.
He was replaced by pinch-runner Joaquin Arias, who scored the final run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Young.
Molina is the fifth player in Rangers history to hit for the cycle and the first since Kinsler on April 15, 2009. The triple was Molina's first since April 29, 2009. The last catcher to hit for the cycle was Chad Moeller with Milwaukee against Cincinnati on April 27, 2004. And the last visitor to hit for the cycle at Fenway Park was Cleveland's Andre Thornton on April 2, 1978.
But Molina said the grand slam meant more. It came in the five-run fifth and broke a 3-3 tie.
''That was more special than the cycle actually, because it put us ahead,'' he said.
One night earlier, he capped a six-run first inning with a two-run homer and the Rangers went on to a 7-2 win.
''The last two nights every mistake we make he hits,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ''He's knocking the ball all over the ballpark.''
Molina's brother Yadier had a pretty good game himself for St. Louis on Friday, homering and driving in four runs in the Cardinals' 8-4 win over Los Angeles.
''He did? That's awesome,'' Yadier Molina said when told about his brother's big game.
The AL West-leading Rangers lost their last four games before the All-Star break but returned to take the first two of a four-game series against the Red Sox, who have lost seven of nine as injuries severely weakened their lineup.
Catchers Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida all are sidelined. Right-handed starter Clay Buchholz made a rehab start for Pawtucket on Friday night and Josh Beckett is scheduled to do the same on Saturday night.
Texas got off to a fast start again Friday with two runs in the first off Felix Doubrount (1-2). Leadoff hitter Elvis Andrus reached second on a two-base throwing error by the pitcher and scored on Kinsler's single. Nelson Cruz singled in Kinsler.
Boston tied it in the second against Colby Lewis (9-5). Kevin Youkilis doubled and scored on J.D. Drew's single. Drew took third on a single by Beltre and scored on a wild pitch.
The game was delayed by rain for one hour after the third inning, and Adrian Beltre's solo homer gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Then the Rangers went ahead to stay in the fifth.
Young singled, took second on a wild pitch and stayed there on an infield single by Vladimir Guerrero. Doubrount then caught a hard liner from Josh Hamilton, but threw wildly to second trying for an inning-ending double play and the runners moved to second and third.
That kept the inning alive as Doubrount was replaced by Fernando Cabrera, who was called up from the minors on Friday.
''We talk all the time about giving them extra opportunities,'' Francona said. ''That probably played itself out to the worst it could.''
Cabrera walked Cruz and David Murphy, forcing in the tying run, then got ahead of Molina with an 0-2 count. After a ball, Molina homered to center, his fifth of the season and second with Texas.
Boston cut the lead to 7-4 in the sixth on Drew's sacrifice fly.
Notes: The Red Sox called up Cabrera from Pawtucket and optioned RHP Robert Manuel to the International League team. ... Kinsler extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... Both teams began the day with 51-38 records, but Boston was in third place in the AL East.