KANSAS CITY -- Rangers designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero put on another show on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. But, without prompting, the first person manager Ron Washington wanted to talk about after an 8-7 victory over the Royals was starter Rich Harden. "Richard gave us a great effort out there," Washington said. "He really pounded the strike zone. They got everything they earned off him. That's all we could ask for. It was a good outing. We just couldn't hold on to the lead for him to get the victory."
Harden did have that chance. He had a 6-2 lead through 4 1/2 innings before the Royals rallied to tie it up on him with one in the fifth and three in the sixth. So, reliever Darren O'Day would end up getting the victory as the Rangers snapped a two-game losing streak, but Washington remained unfazed by his starter giving up six runs in 5 1/3 innings to the Royals. "They're not doormats over there," Washington said. "Those guys can play baseball. They got some big hits and scored some runs. That's better than Rich walking guys. If we get that every time and he'll get a lot of wins. Those guys swung the bat. I'd like to shut them down of course but it didn't happen." No it didn't. Instead the Rangers took their All-Star power show on the road and it turned out to be a smash hit at Kauffman Stadium. And they needed every smash they could get to hold off the Royals at the end, while extending their lead to three games over Oakland in the American League West. By all rights, this night belonged to Guerrero, who was the leading vote-getter among American League designated hitters in the All-Star voting update announced Monday. One day later he reinforced those credentials by crushing a pair of two-run home runs and an RBI double to tie a season-high with five RBIs. "I just don't know what to say about him," third baseman Michael Young said. "He's just been a huge force for us. Obviously he had a huge game. We had a lot of guys come out tonight and have good at-bats, but Vlad does it every night. It has been a lot of fun playing with him." Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton also hit home runs, the first time this season the Rangers have hit more than one home run in a road game. The Rangers had hit just nine home runs in their previous 19 road games before unleashing their middle-of-the-order barrage on Royals pitcher Gil Meche. "Meche is a good pitcher and he was mixing his pitches well, but we've been swinging the bats really well lately," Cruz said. The Rangers have hit 34 home runs and have played 26 home games. Guerrero, coming into the game, had hit nine home runs at home and just one on the road. But the two left-field blasts he hit on Tuesday would have been good in any park. His first home run hit high off the back wall of the Rangers' bullpen and gave them a 2-0 lead in the first inning. He then cleared the bullpen and put a 421-foot shot in the bleachers beyond in the fifth inning for another two-run home run. The tape-measure award winner though went to Hamilton with one out in the fourth. He cleared the batter's eye in deep center field with his ninth home run of the season. The home run was unofficially measured at 448 feet. "I think they shorted me," Hamilton joked. Cruz then hit his 10th home run of the season, the fourth time this year that the Rangers have hit back-to-back home runs. "I'll be honest, I made it pretty easy," Meche said. "I didn't throw but maybe four curveballs out of 25 for strikes. That put me in bad counts. And the pitches that they hit were right over the plate. There wasn't one pitch that they shouldn't have hit over the fence and where they hit 'em in those locations. It was just a bad-pitched game." The Rangers' offensive muster also included Justin Smoak snapping an 0-for-13 skid with a single, David Murphy ending an 0-for-15 run as a pinch-hitter with a single and Matt Treanor stealing only the second base of his career. But it was the long ball that ultimately proved the difference in the Rangers winning for the 11th time in 15 games. Plus a starting pitcher who made his manager happy at least.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.