They had leads of 3-0 and 9-5 and lost them. But the Texas Rangers managed to regroup and go blow for blow with the Boston Red Sox.
And, at the end of the day, having Josh Hamilton at his best helped the Rangers deliver the knockout punch in a 10-9 victory on Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park.
Hamilton had four RBIs for the second time in a week, and is returning to his April and May form when he was the American League’s top player.
Hamilton, Mitch Moreland, Geovany Soto and Nelson Cruz all hit home runs for the Rangers.
“It was good. I hit the ball hard,” Hamilton said. “I’ve felt good for a couple of weeks. I haven’t really been getting balls to fall in or I am fouling pitches off that I normally would hit. I feel good all around.”
Hamilton provided a spark in the early, middle and late part of a game that took several twists and turns.
He had a two-run triple to deep center field in the first inning, part of a three-run inning for the Rangers.
After the Red Sox pulled even at 3-3 going into the fifth, Hamilton sent a two-run shot into the right-field seats. That homer, Hamilton’s 30th of the season, was preceded by a solo shot by Moreland. It’s the third season for Hamilton to be in the 30-homer club.
Boston scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but Texas extended its lead to 9-5 on a solo shot by Cruz in the seventh.
At that time, reliever Roy Oswalt had retired four consecutive batters and manager Ron Washington sent him out for the seventh. It didn’t go well.
Oswalt didn’t retire a batter in the inning, allowing four runs, including a game-tying, three-run homer to Will Middlebrooks.
“I thought Roy was sharp and almost made a mistake, but my team picked me up,” Washington said. “Skip is always picking up players and today the players picked up the Skip.”
Alexi Ogando came in and retired the next six batters, keeping the game tied at 9-9 going to the ninth.Hamilton provided another key hit in the ninth, as his single moved Elvis Andrus from first to third. Adrian Beltre then drove in Andrus on a sacrifice fly to give the Rangers’ the go-ahead run.
Andrus said he knew Red Sox rightfielder Cody Ross didn’t have the best arm and was going to third all the way on Hamilton’s hit. More important, Andrus was pleased to see Hamilton come through at the plate.
“He hasn’t hit like that in a while,” Andrus said. “It was terrific today. He’s starting to swing the bat better and he’s not chasing many breaking pitches.”
Added Washington: “The one thing he’s doing very well is when there are RBIs out there, he’s not missing very many of them.”Joe Nathan worked around a one-out double by Ross to close out the game for his 23rd save.
The Rangers almost put the game out of reach after Beltre’s sac fly, though. Cruz sent a high fly ball down the left-field line that was called — and upheld — as a foul ball. He eventually drew a walk, but the Rangers didn’t score again in the ninth.
“They don’t have a real good camera angle to change it, but I got it fair inside the foul ball,” Cruz said. “But it was good for the offense to step up like that. We needed it. But you don’t expect a game like that when Harrison throws.”
Harrison turned in his second shortest outing of the season, lasting only 4 2/3 innings. He gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Washington said Harrison was battling a stomach virus, and Harrison received intravenous fluids after the game.
“He’s a little bit under the weather, but he went out there and left his heart out there on that mound,” Washington said. “He took the ball and he battled.”