Josh Hamilton was the main attraction Thursday night, and he marked his encore at Globe Life Park as a member of the home team with a ringing double in his first at-bat and an RBI single in his last.
He also was shown plenty of love from the 34,085 fans at Globe Life Park.
The return of the 2010 American League MVP, a member of the Texas Rangers for a second time in his career, was just about the only highlight. And Hamilton’s double, for a long while, was the only Rangers hit.
Eduardo Rodriguez held one of the top offenses in baseball this month to three hits in 7 2/3 innings of his big-league debut, and the Boston Red Sox broke open a close game with three two-out runs in the eighth inning en route to a 5-1 victory.
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The Rangers have lost two in a row after their season-best seven-game winning streak, and have dipped two games under .500 after climbing back to the mark earlier in the week.
They are 2-2 since Hamilton returned Monday, and he’s 3 for 15 (.200). But he believes there is more there and that it’s not far away.
“There’s only one way to find out: That’s to go out there and play,” said Hamilton, who finished 2 for 4. “What kind of player is not going to have confidence that he can do what he’s always done? When that happens, you need to retire.
“I think I can do what I’ve done in the past. I’ve had more fun and more fun each time. Me having fun is me getting closer to where I need to be.”
Facing Rodriguez couldn’t have been much fun. The rookie allowed Hamilton’s double, an infield hit by Shin-Soo Choo and a line single by Delino DeShields, the final batter he faced.
Rodriguez walked two and struck out seven.
“He was locked in,” said Prince Fielder, who went 0 for 4 but still leads the AL in batting at .361. “He had a good night and a good start.”
Nick Martinez didn’t pitch badly for the Rangers, who lost for only the second time in his 10 starts this season, but he took his first loss. He allowed 12 base runners on nine hits, two walks and a hit batsman, but he used two inning-ending double plays to limit the Red Sox to only two runs in seven innings.
His main complaint was a slow tempo that prolonged innings.
“It was just one of those nights where you have to battle,” Martinez said. “You’re always one pitch away from a double play and getting out of the inning.”
Martinez (4-1) was good enough to give the Rangers a chance, but the no-roles bullpen didn’t. Tanner Scheppers walked Mike Napoli with two outs in the eighth and was replaced by left-hander Sam Freeman to face two lefty hitters.
Freeman hit the first one, Stephenville High graduate Brock Holt, and walked Carlos Peguero, who was traded to the Red Sox on Wednesday, a week after the Rangers had designated him for assignment.
Rookie catcher Blake Swihart delivered a single just past the glove of second baseman Adam Rosales, and an infield hit by Rusney Castillo make it 5-0.
Martinez’s work was lost.
“We just didn’t give him any help,” manager Jeff Banister said.
Hamilton prevented the Rangers’ first shutout since April 8 with a line single to right field following Adrian Beltre’s one-out double in the ninth. Both of his hits came off of lefties, Rodriguez and Tommy Layne.
It was a nice homecoming for Hamilton, albeit in a loss that left the Rangers only 6-14 at the Globe and while playing with an illness.
“You play some of your best games sick,” Hamilton said. “You focus more and don’t try to do too much.”
The Rangers didn’t do too much against Rodriguez. Hamilton, though, had a nice homecoming, complete with a warm reception from the fans.
“I appreciated it a lot,” Hamilton said. “You don’t know what to expect, and to hear the fans cheer and stand, it means a lot. It brought back some good memories.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760