DETROIT (AP)—The Texas Rangers are back in first place, and they know they can thank their bullpen.
Three Texas relievers combined for three shutout innings Thursday and the surprising Rangers beat the Detroit Tigers 2-1 to complete a three-game sweep. The win, combined with Oakland’s loss in New York, put the Rangers a half-game ahead of the Athletics in the AL West.
“We’re very confident in our bullpen right now,” said Alfonso Soriano, who hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth. “We know that 90 percent of the time, the game is over once those guys are in there.”
Texas relievers pitched 7 1-3 scoreless innings in the series.
“In the offseason, we targeted bullpen depth for this reason,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s nice to see it coming together like this.”
“This season has been like a dream come true for me,” said Cordero, who started his career with Detroit. “But it isn’t just me—it is the starters who get it to the ‘pen, and the other guys who get it to the ninth inning for me. That’s why we are in first place.”
Starting pitcher Ryan Drese (8-6) allowed one run on six hits and three walks in six innings to win for the fourth time in five starts.
“Let’s not forget that, without Ryan, none of what the bullpen did today would have mattered,” Showalter said. “He did a great job.”
The sweep was the Rangers’ third on the road this year, the first time they have had that many since 1999. They had lost seven of nine entering the series.
“You really have to give them a lot of credit,” said Ivan Rodriguez, who spent the first 12 seasons of his career with the Rangers. “They are hitting the ball well, they are catching it well and they are pitching it well.”
Detroit loaded the bases in the eighth, but Almanzar retired Bobby Higginson to end the inning.
“We had some chances, but we couldn’t get the big hits,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “We only scored five runs in the whole series—we aren’t hitting the ball and we aren’t scoring runs.”
Yan replaced Ledezma to start the sixth and allowed Soriano’s 21st homer of the season, a one-out drive into the right-field bullpen.
Soriano finished 3-for-4, adding a single and a triple.
Texas loaded the bases with one out in the first, but Brian Jordan grounded into an inning-ending double play. The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half on Rodriguez’s RBI single.
Detroit had the bases loaded in the second, but Alex Sanchez tapped weakly back to Drese.
The Rangers tied the game in the fourth. Soriano struck out, but reached when Rodriguez couldn’t handle Ledezma’s wild pitch. Mark Teixeira grounded into a fielder’s choice, went to third on Jordan’s double and scored on Hank Blalock’s sacrifice fly to shallow left.
Soriano’s homer was his 20th of the year as a second baseman. He is just the 12th second baseman to have three 20-homer seasons in his career, and the sixth to do it three years in a row. … The Rangers placed RHP Jeff Nelson (elbow) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 1, and recalled RHP Ryan Snare from Triple-A Oklahoma. … In addition to the bases-loaded groundout, Sanchez had a rough fifth inning. He came up with a runner on first and none out, bunted into a force at second, then was thrown out stealing.