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Hamilton, Beltre help Rangers top Royals, extend AL West lead

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Associated Press
9/7/2012 12:16:40 AM
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Michael Young's is able to handle his lower-than-usual stats this season because the numbers he cares most about are wins.

Ian Kinsler hit a leadoff triple in the 10th inning and scored on Young's single to lift the Texas Rangers over the Kansas City Royals 5-4 on Thursday night.

Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre hit back-to-back homers in the fourth to help the AL West leaders overcome a 3-0 deficit.

"Knocking in runs leads to wins," said Young, a seven-time All-Star who is hitting .269, 35 points below his career average entering this season. "That's the only stat I care about is racking up wins. I don't care about the numbers that are in the past. Those games are done. They're as much in the past as numbers I put up 10 years ago, they're in the past. I'm always focused on the next game and the next opportunity."

The Rangers (82-55) moved a season-high 27 games above .500 and own the best record in franchise history after 137 games. They won their sixth straight series and upped their division lead to 5 1/2 games over idle Oakland.

With Kinsler on third base and no outs, Young was looking for a pitch to lift.

"I'm trying to stay in the middle of the field, stay as short and quick as I possibly can and get something up in the zone that I can hit on a line or higher," Young said. "The last thing you want to do is hit a ground ball right there, just try to get something up and use the whole field."

Young had hit just .222 in his previous 22 games, but Rangers manager Ron Washington remained in his corner even after the promotion of 19-year-old phenom Jurickson Profar, who homered in his first big league at-bat Sunday but did not play in the four games at Kansas City.

"Michael has been grinding all year," Washington said. "There's no change in him. The only thing is things are working now. I believe in Michael Young and I'm going to play Michael Young. You don't get over 2,000 hits and not be able to hit. He's done a lot of things in 10 years. I'm on his ship."

Mike Adams (4-3) allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth. Joe Nathan earned his 30th save in 31 tries, converting his 28th consecutive opportunity since a blown save on April 11. It was the right-hander's 39th career save against Kansas City.

Greg Holland (6-4) took the loss.

Royals starter Luke Hochevar took a 3-0 lead into the fourth and retired his first 10 batters before Young's single. Four pitches later the score was tied after Hamilton and Beltre hit consecutive home runs for the fourth time this season and second on this road trip.

Hamilton leads the majors with 39 homers and is tied with Detroit's Miguel Cabrera for the RBI lead with 116. Beltre, who has 30 home runs, has been the hottest hitter in the majors over the past 17 games with 11 homers, 21 RBIs, 16 runs and a .435 batting average.

"You can't make mistakes against them," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "They do a lot of damage with home runs. They're geared for it. It's the way they are built, for quick strikes.

"Luke got a pitch up to Hamilton, but he made a pretty good pitch to Beltre. He's so hot now he's spanking everything."

Hochevar, who is 0-4 with a 5.74 ERA in seven starts since a July 31 victory, was pulled with one out in the seventh when the Rangers went ahead 4-3. Geovany Soto's double knocked in David Murphy, who had singled.

Kelvin Herrera replaced Hochevar and on the next pitch induced Craig Gentry to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Scott Feldman, who is 0-5 in his past six starts, left with a 4-3 lead, but the Texas bullpen failed to hold it for even one batter. After Feldman retired the leadoff hitter in the seventh, Washington summoned left-hander Michael Kirkman to face Eric Hosmer, who homered on a 3-1 pitch.

"I made a little adjustment," Feldman said after the third inning. "Getting those three runs back was huge and from there basically just throwing to Geo's (catcher Geovany Soto) glove and trying to make pitches. We're capable of striking back pretty quickly like you saw tonight."

Jeff Francoeur, who entered batting just .128 with no extra-base hits and one RBI in 14 games, homered in the second inning off Feldman.

Alex Gordon stroked a run-scoring triple in the third and scored on Salvador Perez's single. Perez extended his hitting streak to 11 games, matching his career best.

The Royals stole three bases without a throw, including two swipes of third by Lorenzo Cain. Rangers opponents have stolen 24 consecutive bases without being caught since Aug. 6.

On the flip side, Perez picked off Gentry at first base, his second pickoff of the series and fourth this season -- a Royals record.

NOTES: OF David Lough, who had started four of five games since the Royals called him up on Sept. 1, was not in the lineup due to a mild right hamstring strain. Lough was injured running to first base in the ninth inning Wednesday. ... Rangers LHP Derek Holland (10-6) will try to win his fourth straight start Friday night at Tampa Bay. ... The Royals, who swept the White Sox in a three-game series last month at Kauffman Stadium, will open a six-game trip Friday at Chicago with RHP Luis Mendoza on the mound. ... Texas C Mike Napoli, on the DL with a strained left quadriceps, ran the bases before the game. Washington acknowledged Napoli did not feel "comfortable" afterward. "It's not a setback," Washington said. "We've just got to get him past running the bases, that's all. We're just going slow." ... Rangers LHP Robbie Ross, on the DL with a strained foreman, rejoined the team and has been cleared to throw.

Josh Hamilton (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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