Blalock's sacrifice lifts Rangers in 10th

Blalock's sacrifice lifts Rangers in 10th

TORONTO -- They described this one in different ways.

Mark Teixeira said it was "ugly." Hank Blalock called it "a grind." Gerald Laird used the word "tough."

Manager Ron Washington smiled and said, "It's not exactly how I drew it up, but I sure loved it."

Ultimately, the Rangers called it a win, even after blowing two leads. But the Toronto Blue Jays blew two leads as well, and the Rangers finally emerged with a 9-8 victory in 10 innings on Saturday afternoon at the Rogers Centre.

"We kept fighting and got it done," Washington said. "These guys fought hard today. You don't need to play these kind, but when you play them, it's nice to win one."

The Rangers won despite letting a 4-1 lead get away in the bottom of the sixth inning and squandering an 8-7 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. But they also had to fight back after trailing, 5-4, after six innings and by a 7-5 score going into the top of the ninth. It was the first time the Rangers had won two straight on the road this year.

"For the team, it was a great day," starter Kevin Millwood said. "To be able to come back and get a big win like that -- everybody knows we haven't played well on the road. To pull that one out is huge."

The Rangers won because they kept hitting all through the lineup. Michael Young started two rallies with a single and a double, Teixeira delivered two doubles and his second home run in two games, Laird chipped in with three hits, including his first home run, and Blalock had two singles and a 10th-inning sacrifice fly that drove home the winning run.

"When we're swinging the bats well, we feel like we can get back into any game," Blalock said. "We feel like we've got our edge back."

Most of the Rangers' hitting was done early. The ninth and 10th innings featured grinding and battling at the plate in big situations.

The Rangers, after seeming to be in control early, trailed, 7-5, going into the ninth, but Young, after fouling off two 3-2 pitches, lined a single to center off Blue Jays closer Jason Frasor.

Frasor then walked Teixeira before striking out Sosa and getting Blalock to foul out, but Ian Kinsler worked a walk to load the bases and pinch-hitter Frank Catalanotto was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run. That brought up Brad Wilkerson, who singled off of shortstop Royce Clayton's glove to drive home two runs, giving the Rangers an 8-7 lead.

"We have good hitters, and good hitters are going to get hits," Young said. "Sooner or later, we're going to come through."

The Rangers turned the ninth over to Akinori Otsuka, who came into the game not having given up a run this year. That changed, as Blalock fumbled a potential game-ending double play and Clayton was able to tie it with a single up the middle.

"After that ball clanged off my glove, I was hoping my spot would come up, so I could do something offensively," Blalock said.

He got that chance. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons made sure of it after Young doubled with one out in the 10th off left-handed reliever Brian Tallet. Teixeira worked a walk as Young stole third, and then Sosa, after missing with a big swing at a 1-0 pitch, was walked intentionally to load the bases.

"Sammy just missed that one, and they didn't want to take any more chances with him," Washington said.

Gibbons preferred a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup with Tallet vs. Blalock. Coming into the game, left-handers were hitting .213 against Tallet in his Major League career, and Blalock has been known to struggle against lefties.

"I was just trying to get something to drive somewhere into the outfield," Blalock said. "Bases loaded, less than two outs -- that's the part of the game where I have to come through for us."

He did. Blalock worked the count full and then drove a pitch to deep center where Vernon Wells ran it down near the wall. Young scored to give the Rangers the lead.

"That was one great at-bat against the left-hander," Washington said. "[Tallet] is death on lefties, and Hank hung in there. He made him get the ball up and didn't swing at anything outside the strike zone."

Joaquin Benoit finished it for the Rangers, surviving an error by Young in the bottom of the 10th to earn his second Major League save and his first since Sept. 3, 2002. That was the one that went seven innings, the longest save in Major League history.

This one was much shorter but quite rewarding for his teammates.

"I'd like to win 5-0 or 7-2," Teixeira said. "But if you can scratch out a win like this one, that keeps the fight in you."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.