September 10, 2011

Rangers' Lewis bounces back, subdues A's

After a rough stretch, Colby Lewis is solid in a 13-4 victory that keeps the Rangers 2 1/2 games ahead of the Angels.

ARLINGTON -- The resilient label that has been applied to the Texas Rangers as a team also covers players individually, and Colby Lewis is the latest to get branded.

The past three times the Rangers' No. 2 starter had pitched, he had allowed 16 earned runs in only 151/3 innings.

That's the same Lewis who allowed a two-run homer, his 33rd this year, only four batters into his start Friday night.

But the home run was only a loud hiccup on an otherwise terrific outing for the right-hander, who allowed only four other hits and one more run in 71/3 innings as the Rangers pulled away from Oakland 13-4.

The victory ensured that the Rangers would have no worse than a 21/2-game lead in the American League West entering today's games. The Angels were playing a late game against New York on the West Coast.

Michael Young, subbing as the No. 3 hitter as Josh Hamilton missed the game for the birth of his fourth daughter, drove in four runs late as the Rangers scored nine times in the seventh and eighth.

Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus drove in two runs apiece, and Ian Kinsler scored four runs as the Rangers improved to 10-4 against the A's this season.

Lewis has won five straight decisions against A's, tied for the longest active streak against them. It was his first win overall since beating Oakland on Aug. 13.

The difference, as always with Lewis, was pitch location.

"You guys know what I'm going to say, right?" Lewis said. "It's all location. That what it is: getting yourself into pitcher's counts instead of hitter's counts and keeping the ball down in the zone."

He said he didn't do anything differently in preparing for Friday, though manager Ron Washington suggested that Lewis was more mechanically sound because he was able to keep the ball down.

The one time he made a mistake was in the first inning after walking Hideki Matsui with two outs. Josh Willingham followed with a two-run shot to give Oakland a quick lead.

But the Rangers countered with two of their own in the bottom half, and Lewis didn't buckle again.

He allowed two-out singles in the second, third and fifth, and a one-out single in the eighth on his final pitch. Lewis (12-10) struck out seven and allowed just the walk to Matsui in the first.

"Maybe I should give up a home run more often in the first inning. Slap me across the face or something to get me going," Lewis said.

"I felt better as the game went on, that's for sure. It [the Rangers' two runs in the first] took a lot of pressure off. It's a 0-0 ballgame. It's like the first inning all over again."

Matsui would hit a two-run homer off Mike Adams in the eighth, leading to a third run against Lewis, but the homer made only a minor dent in the Rangers' advantage.

They broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth with two runs against Brandon McCarthy, and broke the game open with a four-run seventh as the first five hitters singled.

Mike Napoli capped a five-run eighth with a 428-foot two-run blast after the Matsui homer a half-inning earlier had made it an 8-4 game.

Afterward, though, Lewis was the story.

"We're happy with our offensive approach as a team," Young said. "Colby threw a great game. And our 'pen came in and did a good job. Neffy looked like he was OK after his mini-vacation.

"We fed off Colby tonight. He kept getting us back in the dugout and gave us a chance to throw up some good at-bats."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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