Hamilton rewards Washington's faith

Hamilton rewards Washington's faith

ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton has gotten plenty of attention this World Series as he plays through a groin injury that the Rangers slugger believes is a sports hernia.

But amid speculation that he should be dropped in the batting order, Rangers manager Ron Washington has stuck with Hamilton, starting him in the third spot that he occupied 120 times during the season and in all 13 postseason games.

In Game 4 on Sunday night at Rangers Ballpark, that faith was rewarded. With Elvis Andrus aboard in the bottom of the first, Hamilton drove a ball into the right-field corner that bounced around long enough to score the speedy shortstop all the way from first base, giving Hamilton his second RBI of this World Series and the Rangers an early 1-0 lead.

"It was big," Andrus said. "Any time we score first, we have a really good percentage of winning the game. It was special, especially for Josh. He's been having a little bit of a hard time, but for him to go out there pretty good like he did tonight, that's what we're looking for."

With the way Derek Holland pitched Sunday, the one run would have held up, but Mike Napoli widened the gap to four with a three-run homer in the sixth.

"That was obviously a big at-bat to get us on the board," Michael Young said. "We wanted to get on the board early tonight, we did that, and that was a big knock for us."

Hamilton has been far from the player who won the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player Award, and it seemed like weeks since he had squared up a pitch and hit it hard. In Game 3, his hardest-hit ball was a liner that landed about 20 feet foul down the right-field line. For the Series, he's batting .125 in 16 at-bats.

"We've talked about it all postseason long, how we'd much rather have Josh at 75 percent than most guys at 100 percent," David Murphy said. "He's a huge presence in the middle of our lineup. He may not be the Josh that we see every single day, but he's still been extremely effective. He's still having great at-bats and taking some good swings."

While Hamilton has struggled by any measure throughout the World Series, the Rangers will be quick to point out that his two RBIs have been critical. He drove in the tying run in Game 2 with a sacrifice fly, and the winning run on Sunday with the first-inning double.

"Bottom line: He wants to be a part of this and he deserves to be, because he's been such a big part of our team all year long," Murphy said.

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