Rangers' bats afire in nightcap

Rangers' bats afire in nightcap

ARLINGTON -- Apparently, all it took was a night of rain to cool off the sizzling Baltimore Orioles.

Their six-game winning streak put on hold by Wednesday's weather postponement, the Orioles' run was decisively ended Thursday when the Rangers swept the teams' doubleheader by scores of 3-1 and 5-4 before 15,560 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"I don't like doubleheaders," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "But it's nice when you can win two of 'em."

The victories improved Texas to 5-4. A modest accomplishment, perhaps, but it's the first time the Rangers have had a winning record under Washington. The team started 0-3 last season under their first-year manager and never made it over .500 in 2007.

"It feels great," said C.J. Wilson, the left-handed closer who picked up two saves Thursday. "It's something we've been thinking about collectively as a team -- at least I have. Especially with the start we got off to last year."

Washington dismissed his first winning record as insignificant at this stage of a long season.

"It's only nine ballgames," he said. "Ask me again when we're 15 or 20 games over (.500) and it'll mean a lot more. We're playing well right now, but we're still trying to iron some wrinkles out."

The Rangers owed both victories Thursday to strong pitching performances at critical moments, and late-inning rallies helped along by second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Consecutive singles by Ben Broussard, Adam Melhuse and Kinsler broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Rangers the nightcap despite having blown an early three-run lead.

It took a late rally to win the opener as well, but Texas went ahead to stay in that game when Michael Young broke a 1-1 tie with a one-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.

Milton Bradley doubled twice in Game 2, including a two-run liner that helped the Rangers take a 4-1 lead in the third against Orioles left-hander Adam Loewen (0-1).

Outfield colleague Marlon Byrd had what must have felt like an even more momentous double in the fifth. That hit ended the 0-for-17 drought with which Byrd began the season.

But Baltimore clawed back with a two-out rally in the sixth against Rangers left-hander Kason Gabbard. After retiring the first two hitters, Gabbard gave up a single to Aubrey Huff and a two-run homer to Jay Payton that pulled the Orioles within 4-3.

Gabbard was done after that 101st pitch, but Baltimore got to reliever Jamey Wright (1-0) in the top of the eighth. A leadoff double by Melvin Mora, a single by Nick Markakis and a run-scoring grounder by Kevin Millar enabled the Orioles to tie the game at 4-4.

But the Rangers reclaimed the game in the bottom of the eighth against Orioles reliever Chad Bradford (0-1). The right-hander with the submarine delivery struck out David Murphy to start the inning, then gave up the three consecutive singles to Broussard, Melhuse and Kinsler. It was Kinsler's hard one-hopper that eluded diving shortstop Luis Hernandez that sent Broussard home with the go-ahead run.

Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.