Relief corps, homers boost Rangers

Relief corps, homers boost Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Texas and Philadelphia entered Friday as two of the highest-scoring offenses in the Majors, with 841 combined runs. Neither offense slowed down in the Interleague series opener at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The clubs combined for 12 runs in the first four innings as neither staring pitcher made it to the fifth. With each team forced to stretch its bullpen, the Rangers' relievers withstood the test. Philadelphia scored just one run off the Texas bullpen in 5 2/3 innings as the Rangers won, 8-7, and improved to 41-40 at the official midpoint in the season.

"We're such a better team than we were last year, in all facets of the game," closer C.J. Wilson said. "Our offense is so good and our pitching is good enough to support our offense. The big thing is maintaining our health."

Two players who've been battling to stay healthy, Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley, were in the lineup Friday, and it was a good thing for Texas that they were, as usual.

Each went 1-for-3, with Bradley hitting his 16th home run of the season and Hamilton driving in the Rangers' final run of the game in the eighth with a sacrifice fly. At the time, Hamilton's sac fly provided an insurance run, putting Texas up, 8-6. It proved to be the game-winner.

Wilson threw two scoreless ninth innings during the Rangers' road trip, but when manager Ron Washington called on him in the ninth Friday, it turned into another adventure.

Wilson allowed a home run to Jayson Werth, the first batter he faced in the inning, and Philadelphia eventually had the tying run on second and Ryan Howard at the plate with two outs.

Texas shifted its infield for Howard and appeared to have him played perfectly when Howard sent a hot line drive toward Michael Young, who was stationed behind second base. However, the ball short-hopped Young and caromed away for a single, putting the winning run on base.

But Wilson knuckled down, inducing a game-ending groundout to earn his career-high 17th save of the season.

"It's been a rough year with drama in the ninth inning," Wilson said. "It's been like an MTV reality show, but hopefully I'm getting all of it out of the way now so I won't have to go through so much of it next year and beyond."

"We're such a better team than we were last year, in all facets of the game. Our offense is so good and our pitching is good enough to support our offense. The big thing is maintaining our health."
-- C.J. Wilson

The ninth inning wasn't the only scare of the night for the Rangers' bullpen.

Eddie Guardado entered in the eighth and almost gave up a two-run home run to Chris Coste, who homered in the fourth inning, which would have put Philadelphia up, 8-7. But Coste's drive died at the warning track and was hauled in by David Murphy in left field.

The middle innings were smooth sailing for the Rangers' bullpen, though.

"They did their job," Washington said. "C.J. made it exciting, but he did what he needed to do getting the third out."

Josh Rupe came in for starter Kason Gabbard in the fourth and induced an inning-ending double play with a runner on third to keep the score tied at 6. In 2 1/3 innings, Rupe allowed only a walk.

"I've been called on a lot earlier than I was tonight," said Rupe, who earned his third victory of the season. "My job is just to go out and keep the damage to a minimum and keep the other team where it's at on the scoreboard."

Frank Francisco entered after Rupe and was flawless. He struck out three of the four Phillies he faced, and the fourth grounded out to second.

The performance by the bullpen didn't come out of nowhere. Texas relievers had pitched seven scoreless innings in the previous two games. In the club's last 17 games, the bullpen has a 2.78 ERA in 55 innings. Rupe hasn't allowed a run in seven outings, while Francisco and Guardado have shut out opponents in their last five.

But the 'pen's efforts would have been for naught, if not for another big night for the offense.

Ian Kinsler led the way, going 3-for-4 with a home run to lead off the Rangers' half of the first inning. It was his fifth career leadoff home run. He also scored three of Texas' runs in the game.

In addition to Bradley and Kinsler's home runs, Chris Davis added a two-run shot in Texas' five-run third. The Rangers are now 11-0 when hitting at least three home runs in a game.

"One thing about those guys, they know they can put runs up on the board," Washington said.

Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.