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Cruz has home run stroke working

Cruz has home run stroke working

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ARLINGTON -- Vladimir Guerrero finally cooled off on Saturday afternoon, but the Nelson Cruz Show continued unabated at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Cruz ripped his fourth home run in five games in the Rangers' 4-3 loss to the Mariners. The home run came off Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the sixth inning and gave Texas a 3-1 lead at that time.

"It was a fastball middle in," Cruz said. "It was a good pitch for him. He was trying to pound me all day long, but I kept my hands inside and got around on him."

Cruz did, crushing a 3-1 fastball deep into the left-field seats. He is now only the second player in Rangers history to hit four home runs in their first five games. Dean Palmer also did so in 1993.

"I'm not expecting to hit home runs every time up," Cruz said. "I'm just trying to square the ball up and drive it."

Hernandez is not the easiest pitcher to go deep against. He allowed 0.57 home runs per nine innings last season, the second-lowest ratio in the league. Cruz's home run was also only the second in Hernandez's past nine starts going back to last season.

"He's swinging a real good bat," manager Ron Washington said. "He's hitting the ball hard. He's getting his pitches and not missing them."

Cruz also has four of the Rangers' five home runs through five games. Guerrero has the other, but he was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Saturday after going 9-for-15 in his first four games. Cruz is now 8-for-18 in five games and has eight of the Rangers' 16 RBIs so far. He has hit safely in all five games, with at least one extra-base hit in each game.

But three of his four home runs have been without a runner on base. He had a three-run home run on Opening Day, but the last three have been solo shots.

"Nellie is a guy in our lineup that we expect to contribute," third baseman Michael Young said. "He's not a young player anymore. He's an established player and he's off to a good start."

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

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