Rangers' Wilson plays the ace

Posted Monday, Sep. 12, 2011  comments  Print Reprints

2.5Game lead for the Rangers in the AL West.

Rangers (83-64)

Sunday: Beat OAK 8-1

Today: Off

Angels (80-66)

Sunday: Lost to NYY 6-5

Today: at OAK, 9:15

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ARLINGTON -- Only one Texas Rangers starter is getting the ace treatment down the stretch.

While four others in the rotation are getting extra rest, one is being counted on to deliver every fifth day.

While the hope is that the four others can pitch to their capabilities, one is expected to be at his best.

And C.J. Wilson wouldn't have it any other way.

Backed by the 300th and 301st homers of Adrian Beltre's career, Wilson tossed eight scoreless innings Sunday and struck out 11 as the Rangers rolled past Oakland 8-1.

"I love it," the left-hander said. "That's what I expect out of myself, to go out there and throw well. That's what all the work is for. This is what it's all about right here. These last couple weeks are going to be the entire season for us."

The victory, coupled with Los Angeles' 6-5 loss to New York, pushed the Rangers' lead in the American League West back to 2 1/2 games. The Rangers are off today while the Angels play at Oakland to kick off a 10-game road trip.

Wilson, who won his career-high 16th game, has hit only one road bump since the rotation was reset around him, and he enjoyed a smooth ride against the punchless A's.

They managed only five singles against him and only had one runner reach third base. That came in the second inning with two outs, but Wilson fanned Brandon Allen to end the threat.

The A's had consecutive one-out singles in the fifth, but Josh Willingham struck out and Saturday's hero, Scott Sizemore, grounded out.

Wilson (16-6) had his sixth game this season with at least 10 strikeouts, the most since Nolan Ryan had six in 1991.

Wilson retired the final eight batters he faced, but at 111 pitches wasn't allowed to try for his second straight complete-game shutout.

"He's the guy in our rotation that's going every fifth day, and we've got to protect him some kind of way," manager Ron Washington said. "Once he finished the eighth inning, we told him that was it. He understands."

Wilson, who has won six of his past seven decisions, and Josh Outman were locked in a scoreless duel over four innings before the Rangers' offense shook loose in the fifth.

Craig Gentry, who had the second three-hit game of his career, tripled to start the inning and scored on a single by Ian Kinsler for a 1-0 lead. Kinsler would score on a sacrifice fly by Josh Hamilton.

After Michael Young beat out an infield single, Beltre followed with a two-run shot into the left-field seats to become the 84th player in major-league history to collect 300 homers and 2,000 hits.

He started the seventh with a solo shot to center field, and opened the eighth with a single for his fourth hit. He has found his comfort zone at the plate after missing 37 games with a strained left hamstring.

"The last four or five games I've been better," Beltre said. "I made an adjustment in my swing and my approach. I was getting pitches to hit, but I wasn't doing anything. My swing is getting better, and I'm thinking about hitting mistakes from pitchers."

Wilson didn't give the A's any mistake pitches Sunday. That's what a pitcher receiving the ace treatment is supposed to do.

"He's our No. 1 guy, and our No. 1 guy we expect to go out there and do what he did today," Washington said.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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