Hamilton's homer helps Perez win first Rangers start

Posted Sunday, Jul. 01, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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ARLINGTON -- Anyone who had Martin Perez, Yoshinori Tateyama and Michael Kirkman as a winning trifecta for the Texas Rangers at any point this season should sprint to the nearest pay window and cash in that ticket.

It hit Saturday night at Rangers Ballpark.

Those three pitchers, along with an opportunistic offense, combined to help the Rangers become the first team in the major leagues with 50 victories this season despite a litany of injuries to their pitching staff.

Perez tossed 5 1/3 innings to win his first major league start, and Josh Hamilton hit a three-run home run in a big fifth inning as the Rangers beat Oakland 7-2 for their fifth consecutive victory.

The Rangers are a major league-best 50-29, and their lead over Anaheim in the American League West now sits at 6 1/2 games with seven left before the All-Star break.

"It's pretty rare what you saw last year, when we have five starters pretty much the whole year," veteran Michael Young said. "You need organizational depth to give yourself a chance to keep winning. The guys who are getting called up are doing a great job."

Perez (1-0) left to a standing ovation from the 24th sellout crowd this year at Rangers Ballpark after allowing two runs on six hits. The left-hander allowed a solo homer to Chris Carter in the second and a two-out RBI single to Brandon Inge in the fourth.

Considered the Rangers' top pitching prospect the past three years, Perez logged 104 pitches but earned his first career victory in large part because he walked only one batter.

He solidified his case to start again next weekend against Minnesota.

"Everything was working well for me," Perez said. "My sinker and my changeup were working really well, and I'm happy with my outing. I'm ready for what's next."

Perez, though, was trailing 2-1 when the Rangers again used the big inning to topple an opponent. But the A's were awfully generous in the fifth.

Oakland committed two errors, one to start the inning and another with two outs ahead of Hamilton's 409-foot shot after shortstop Brandon Hicks failed to handle an Elvis Andrus grounder that should have ended the inning.

All five runs scored with two outs, and all five were unearned.

"Two-out RBIs are very important," said Ian Kinsler, who knocked in the first two with a soft liner just over third base. "You know the outs. They're tough to get because you've got to get a base hit."

Hamilton's homer was his 25th of the season in the Rangers' 79th game, a club record for the quickest pace to 25. He also matched his 2011 home run total, accomplished in 121 games.

"I like RBIs more than I like home runs, so it's one of those things I haven't tried to hit home runs," said Hamilton, who added an RBI single in the seventh and leads the majors with 73 RBIs. "The biggest thing is trying to hit the ball hard, not far. And it works."

Tateyama, recalled Friday night as Mark Lowe went on the disabled list, stranded a runner at second to finish off the sixth and got the first two outs of the seventh before giving way to Kirkman.

The first two A's reached in the eighth, but Kirkman worked around an error and a walk to keep the score 7-2. He worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to put the Rangers on the verge of a four-game sweep.

More importantly, the overworked relief trio of Robbie Ross, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan didn't throw a pitch for a second consecutive game.

"Those guys will be well rested for the stretch back to the All-Star break," Kirkman said. "We're resilient. All of us want to make our pitches and keep the ball down in the zone and get guys out."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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