Rangers 9, Indians 8

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CLEVELAND (AP)—Over in Texas’ clubhouse, manager Buck Showalter went through a familiar postgame ritual. He praised the Rangers’ steady relievers, the defense and a powerhouse lineup.

Meanwhile, Cleveland manager Eric Wedge did his usual thing: grumbled about his bullpen.

Gary Matthews Jr. and Mark Teixeira each hit two-run homers in the seventh inning as Texas rallied against Cleveland’s bungling bullpen for a 9-8 win over the Indians on Wednesday night.

“We were in position to win in the seventh,” Wedge said after the Indians relievers blew their league-leading 20th save. “We’ve got to make pitches and we didn’t. It’s the same story.”

Teixeira connected off Jeriome Robertson (1-1) to tie it 6-all, and two batters later, Matthews hit his off Rick White as Texas improved to 5-5 on a 14-game road trip.

Alfonso Soriano and Brad Fullmer added solo shots for the Rangers, who lead the majors with 126 home runs.

“It’s fun hitting in this lineup,” said Teixeira, who has seven homers in his past 10 games. “Hitting is contagious, and when you’ve got guys swinging like we do, you can get on a pretty good roll.”

Soriano’s 16th homer, a two-out shot in the eighth inning, set a single-season club record for a Texas second baseman. Julio Franco hit 15 in 1991.

Reliever Ron Mahay (2-0) struck out four in 2 1-3 innings as the Rangers moved back into first place in the AL West, one game ahead of Oakland.

At 47-35, the Rangers are off to one of their best starts in franchise history. A year ago at this point, they were 32-50 and 21 games out of first.

“We’ve got 80 games left,” Showalter said. “Our guys like being a part of this and they don’t want it to stop.”

While their success this season has been one of baseball’s biggest surprises, the Rangers aren’t stunned by anything they’re doing.

“We’re not surprised,” Teixeira said. “Coming out of spring training, we knew we had a good team, a good lineup, a good bullpen and good starting pitching. We’re playing just like we thought we would.”

Once their bats gave the Rangers the lead, Texas’ bullpen preserved it.

Franklin Francisco got two outs in the seventh and worked the eighth before giving way to closer Francisco Cordero.

Cordero gave up an RBI single to Victor Martinez and a run-scoring grounder to Jody Gerut before striking out Ronnie Belliard with the tying run at second for his 26th save in 28 tries.

“I know we’ve got some good hitters and a great lineup, but our bullpen has been our collective MVP,” Teixeira said.

Matt Lawton homered and Travis Hafner had two RBIs for the Indians, whose relievers have converted just 14 of 34 save opportunities.

“Until we get people to step up and settle into their roles, we’re going to have a problem,” Wedge said. “We kept the heat on them but we have to shut them down late.”

With the Rangers trailing by two in the seventh, Teixeira tied it at 6 with his 17th homer.

Fullmer doubled and Teixeira, the AL’s player of the week and batting .406 with 16 RBIs in his past 10 games, hit Robertson’s first pitch over the wall.

David Dellucci walked and Robertson was replaced by White, whose second pitch to Matthews landed in the Indians’ bullpen, putting Texas ahead 8-6.

Soriano, who hit 38 home runs for the New York Yankees last season, homered with two outs in the eighth off Bob Howry, extending the Rangers’ lead to 9-6.

Not only has Soriano’s addition helped the Rangers’ offense, but he has given them an identity as a team to take seriously.

“He’s been huge for us,” Teixeira said. “He’s been in the World Series, All-Star games. He was hitting home runs in the Series as a rookie.”

Lawton’s 15th homer with one out in the sixth put Cleveland ahead 6-4. The shot to right helped the All-Star match his season home run total from 2003 in just 83 games.

Hafner’s two-run double in the fourth had put the Indians up 5-3.run-scoring base hit.


Texas has won eight of nine vs. Cleveland since last season. … Before going just four innings—his shortest outing this season—Texas starter Ryan Drese had pitched into the fifth in 14 of 15 starts. … Hafner has 40 RBIs in his last 50 games. … Dating to July 1 of last season, Indians starter Jason Davis has only three wins in 29 starts. … Indians SS Omar Vizquel went3-for-5 and has hit safely in 10 straight.

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