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Rangers, Byrd fly high in win

Rangers, Byrd fly high in win

ARLINGTON -- Before the game, the Rangers celebrated their team leader in RBIs, Sammy Sosa, for reaching the 600 home run milestone.

However, Marlon Byrd was the RBI machine on Saturday, driving in five runs in the Rangers' 8-5 victory over the Indians before 44,554 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

After being congratulated by actor Vin Diesel and Dominican Republic baseball greats Juan Marichal and Rico Carty, Sosa was beaned in the head by Indians starter Cliff Lee in the third inning. Sosa was removed for precautionary reasons, but did not need to go to the hospital after the Rangers medical staff examined him. Sosa is listed as day-to-day.

"I was just trying to throw a fastball in and it got away from me," Lee (5-7) said. "I would never try to hit anyone in the head, and hopefully he's all right."

Sosa said he was OK after the game. It was the second game this season Sosa has been hit in the head. Yankees reliever Brian Bruney hit Sosa on May 3 in the second game of a doubleheader. The unfitting end to Sosa's night was just one of several rare sights.

The Rangers (42-55) scored five runs off Lee in the first inning, but he stayed in the game until the seventh. Rangers starter Jamey Wright allowed just one hit but gave up a season-high six walks and one hit batter in three-plus innings. Texas then relied on reliever Ron Mahay, who struck out five of the 10 batters he faced.

"I helped my starter out," Mahay (2-0) said. "I've done it all my career, I'm used to it. It was an excellent win for us."

After inheriting a five-run lead, Wright got through the first three innings shutting the Indians out. But, in the fourth, he had a meltdown. Wright walked three batters and hit another as the Indians (57-40) scored three runs without a hit.

"It's a little easier in the stomach because we won," Wright said. "I didn't have it from the first pitch on. I couldn't do anything, it was pretty embarrassing."

Down five runs in the first inning, the Indians did manage to pull within one. Outfielder Grady Sizemore hit a solo home run to right to start the seventh inning off Mahay.

The Rangers responded though, in the bottom half of the seventh. With two-outs, Michael Young singled to right. The Indians pitched around Mark Teixeira, who drew a walk. Then, Adam Melhuse pinch-hit for Frank Catalanotto, who replaced Sosa in the third. The Indians took out the left-handed Lee and brought in right-hander Tom Mastny to face the switch-hitting Melhuse. Melhuse drew an impressive walk with a 3-2 count. That loaded the bases for Byrd, who put the game out of reach with a triple, giving the Rangers a four-run lead.

"I wanted to get my hands back as much as I could like Michael Young does," Byrd said. "I got good wood on it."

Manager Ron Washington said, "I think the bat Melhuse had was key. Mel worked to get on base. He's been in pinch-hit [situations] a lot and I definitely trust him when he goes up there to pinch-hit."

Byrd broke out of a "mini" slump Saturday, going 2-for-4, tying a career-high with five RBIs. He was 0-for-5 heading into the game.

"I checked my stats last night and I'm fine," said Byrd, who is hitting .346. "We've faced unbelievable [pitchers] lately. [Saturday] I got the right pitch and I'm not missing it."

Byrd got the right pitch in the first inning too, hitting a two-run double. It was one of six hits in the five-run inning. Although Wright nearly coughed up that lead, the bullpen came through, which pleased Washington.

"They all have come up big," he said. "Jamey couldn't find his release point but they picked us up.

"[Wright] walked a run in and hit a batter, so I had to make a change. We had gotten a lead, so I didn't want to lose it."

Rangers relievers Joaquin Benoit and Eric Gagne finished the game, although the Indians scored one run in the ninth off Gagne.

Jerry Hairston left the game in the ninth, but his status is still uncertain.

It was the Rangers' first victory against the Indians this season, and they will try to even the series Sunday.

Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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