The single that Elvis Andrus collected in the sixth inning Monday night gave the Texas Rangers a lead they would never relinquish, but afterward it didn’t register as the key hit of the winning rally.
Manager Ron Washington said that A.J. Pierzynski’s game-tying double was the big hit, and Ian Kinsler put the game out of reach later in the inning with a three-run double with two outs.
But Andrus came through in a situation in which the Baltimore Orioles liked the chances of him failing, as he had two innings earlier, so they intentionally walked Mitch Moreland to load the bases with one out.
Andrus killed a rally by hitting into a double play in the fourth inning, but his line single drove in the go-ahead run and helped the Rangers pile up six sixth-inning runs en route to an 8-5 victory at Camden Yards.
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Kinsler drove in four runs, and Derek Holland threw a career-high 125 pitches as he worked into the seventh inning as the Rangers improved to 11-2 against the Orioles in the regular season since 2011.
“When you hammer a ball right at a guy, the only thing you want is to be able to have the same opportunity again,” Andrus said. “They gave the walk to Moreland, and it fired me up a little bit. I wanted to make them pay.”
Said Washington: “The ball he hit into the double play — he smoked that ball. You can’t control where it goes. But we certainly needed him to come through when they walked Moreland intentionally, and he certainly did.”
The hit chased former teammate Scott Feldman, who beat the Rangers on May 6 with seven scoreless innings for the Chicago Cubs, and put rookie Engel Beltre in a tight spot against left-hander Troy Patton.
Washington gave Beltre some advice during the pitching change to be ready to hit the first good pitch he saw. Instead, Beltre flailed his bat at an off-speed 0-2 pitch and blooped it into right for a 5-3 lead.
“It was a line drive,” Washington said. “It drove in a run.”
After Leonys Martin bounced into a fielder’s choice, Kinsler one-hopped off the wall in left field to clear the bases. Kinsler had also driven in the game’s first run in the third with a two-out single, and Moreland made it 2-0 in the fourth before Andrus bounced into the rally-killing double play.
The Orioles stormed back in their half of the fourth, scoring three times in an inning that started with a four-pitch walk to J.J. Hardy, a double by Nate McLouth and an error by Moreland that allowed both runners to score.
Manny Machado gave the Orioles the lead with a two-out single, and, after a single by Adam Jones and a walk to Chris Davis, Holland got Matt Wieters swinging for the third time to end the threat.
Holland (7-4) allowed a two-run homer to Wieters in the seventh, two batters after a passed ball by Pierzynski as Jones struck out. Holland retired only one more batter before being pulled.
“I’ve got to go out there and pitch better than I did today,” Holland said. “Any time you can go out there and get a W is huge. I’ve got to give Washcredit for letting me stay out there. I just didn’t get the job done.”
Ross Wolf needed only one pitch to get the Rangers out of the seventh, and Joakim Soria and Joe Nathan (30 saves) worked a scoreless inning apiece to finish off the Rangers’ fourth win in their past five games. Included in Nathan’s ninth inning was the fourth strikeout of Davis, the former Rangers first baseman who has a baseball-best 33 homers.
Holland had the other three en route to a seven-strikeout game.
“That was huge, with the way Chris is putting up numbers,” Washington said. “Holland made some pitches when he had to, and he didn’t leave anything over the middle of the plate.”