CLEVELAND -- This is the Ryan Dempster that posted a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts with the Chicago Cubs. He keeps the ball down in the zone, he locates his fastball, and he uses his secondary pitches effectively.
Dempster was at his best Friday night, particularly using his split-finger fastball against the Cleveland Indians' left-handed heavy lineup.
Dempster allowed only an unearned run over six innings, the offense drove in four runs with two outs and the Texas Rangers went on to a 5-3 victory at Progressive Field.
"That's how I've been throwing the ball all year," Dempster said. "I'm trying to stay in the groove and execute pitches like that. Keep the ball down and keep it out of the middle of the plate, that's the key."
Dempster has gone 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA over his last three starts after going 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA in his first three starts with Texas.
He retired the first seven batters, and didn't give up a hit until the fourth inning. That base hit drove in the Indians' lone run against him, as Carlos Santana singled to right.
Dempster gave up only one more hit on the night, a two-out double to Shin-Soo Choo in the fifth. He retired the next batter, though, and then worked a scoreless sixth.
"When he keeps the ball down, that's when he's at his best," manager Ron Washington said. "He moved his fastball around tonight, and he did that in the prior starts, too."
Dempster also had the comfort of pitching with a lead all night.
Ian Kinsler led off the game with an infield single, and scored on an RBI single by Adrian Beltre. The Rangers extended their lead with two more runs in the third.
Josh Hamilton drew a one-out walk and moved to third on a single by Beltre. It was an aggressive base-running move by Hamilton, as Beltre's single got to Indians right fielder Ezequiel Carrera quickly.
But Carrera's throw to third was off, and it allowed Beltre to advance to second.
"One of those things where we want to put pressure on the other teams to make plays," Hamilton said.
It paid off.
Nelson Cruz struck out, but Michael Young and David Murphy delivered consecutive, two-out RBI singles to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
After Cleveland pulled to within 3-1, Texas cushioned its lead with single runs in the sixth and seventh.
Kinsler had a two-out RBI double in the sixth, and Young had a two-out, run-scoring single in the seventh.
Four of the Rangers' five runs were driven in with two outs.
"That was guys executing in the clutch," Washington said. "Those are the toughest RBIs to get. I certainly would've liked to get those RBIs with one out, but the game rewarded us tonight because we put some good at-bats together."
The Indians pulled within striking distance in the ninth. With no outs, Casey Kotchman drilled a two-run homer to right off Rangers reliever Koji Uehara, making it a two-run game.
Uehara retired the next batter, Carrera, and then Joe Nathan got the final two outs for his 28th save.
It was a good win for the Rangers against a struggling team. The Indians went 5-24 in August, matching the franchise's worst month when Cleveland lost 24 games in July 1914.
"Anyone can turn and get hot at any time, so you don't take it for granted," Hamilton said. "You can't lose focus."
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760