July 10, 2011

Hero time: Hamilton's walk-off homer gives Rangers 7-6 win

An emotional week for Josh Hamilton adds another chapter for the outfielder.

ARLINGTON -- The spotlight has been on Texas Rangers All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton for everything but baseball the past three days.

That changed in the ninth inning Saturday night.

Exactly three years after Hamilton hit the first walk-off homer of his career, he did it again with a two-run blast into the upper deck at Rangers Ballpark, lifting Texas to a 7-6 victory over Oakland.

Hamilton's homer extended the Rangers' winning streak to six games and gave the Rangers their first victory of the season when trailing after eight innings. They were 0 for 30 before Hamilton's shot landed 435 feet from home plate.

The euphoria surrounding the victory gave Hamilton a little break after the death of firefighter Shannon Stone on Thursday night at Rangers Ballpark after he fell while trying to catch a ball thrown into the stands by Hamilton.

"It's been obviously an up-and-down, rollercoaster, emotional type of weekend," said Hamilton, whose homer capped a 4-for-5 game for him. "Everything that happened to Mr. Stone and the Stone family, obviously I'm still thinking about them, praying for them and grieving about the whole situation. Then for something like that to happen tonight it takes you from one extreme to the other pretty quick.

"I just feel blessed I had the opportunity to do it."

The opportunity arose on a night when the Rangers had to rally back on several occasions. Texas trailed 4-0 and 5-1 before tying the game. The A's took the lead in the seventh on Coco Crisp's solo homer and carried that lead into the ninth.

Oakland closer Andrew Bailey retired the first two batters before Elvis Andrus hit a slow chopper to second. Oakland second baseman Jemile Weeks' throw to first was late, setting the stage for Hamilton.

After two balls by Bailey, Hamilton found a cutter he liked and rapped his 11th homer.

"What a game," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We got it off the best they had. They faced the best we had. We won it."

The victory marked the first time the Rangers had rallied for a victory with two outs in the ninth since June 15, 2010, at Florida.

It certainly wasn't setting up for a dramatic night early. Oakland sent 10 batters to the plate against Colby Lewis in the second and scored four runs. Lewis settled down after that and gave a white-hot Texas offense a chance to get going.

The Rangers rallied to tie the score 5-5 in the fifth by getting RBIs from four consecutive hitters off Brandon McCarthy, with Adrian Beltre's homer knotting the game.

Crisp put the A's back in front with a one-out homer off Tommy Hunter in the seventh, and the Rangers squandered a chance to pull even in the bottom of the inning.

The A's retired seven consecutive batters before Andrus found a way to reach.

"That's what I wanted to do when we're down by one run, and the big bat is behind me," said Andrus, who had two of the 13 Rangers hits. "The way he's been hitting it lately, I just tried to get on base and get [Hamilton] into a clutch situation."

He did that, and Hamilton didn't disappoint with a swing in which he was just trying to put the barrel of the bat on the ball from Bailey (0-2).

"The approach was one pitch, one zone," he said. "I figured they'd try to get me to chase, throw me heaters away. From looking at the replay, he was set up away right there and missed in.

"It was just about being ready to hit right there."

Anthony Andro,


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