Nix homered and drove in three runs, including a tiebreaking sacrifice fly, and the Rangers beat the slumping Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-2 on Sunday to sweep the three-game series.
Nix came into the series in a 3-for-21 drought, but Nix homered twice in the series to help lift a Texas team that had lost six of seven games coming into the weekend.
“I’m going to prepare the same way each day and not carry any troubles to the park,” said Nix, who hit a two-run homer in the second inning and had a .212 batting average over his past 38 games. “It’s a matter of allowing something good to happen.”
Ryan Drese pitched 7 1-3 solid innings to win his third straight start and tie a career high with his 10th victory. Drese (10-6) gave up two runs and seven hits before being relieved by Ron Mahay in the eighth.
Mark Teixeira also hit a two-run homer for the Rangers, who are tied for the AL wild-card lead. Texas also entered Sunday’s game trailing AL West-leading Oakland by 1 1/2 games.
“This was a much-needed series to get us back on track,” Texas outfielder David Dellucci said. “Hopefully we’re becoming our old selves again.”
Aubrey Huff hit his 22nd homer for the Devil Rays, who have lost six in a row. Tampa Bay completed its seven-game road trip 1-6, and has lost 15 of its past 16 road games. The Devil Rays are 14-26 since moving a season-high two games over .500 at 40-38 on July 3.
“We need to go home and regroup,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said.
The Rangers broke a 2-2 tie with a pair of runs in the fourth inning.
Hank Blalock drew a leadoff walk for Jorge Sosa (3-2) and Teixeira followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Nix hit a sacrifice fly that gave Texas a 3-2 lead. After an intentional walk to Gary Matthews Jr., Rod Barajas added another sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.
That was more than enough support for Drese, whose 2.17 home ERA tops the AL. In his last three starts, Drese has given up two runs in 20 1-3 innings. He lowered his ERA to 3.31— the third-best mark in the AL.
“I’ve just been trying to keep the innings small,” Drese said. “It’s something I’ve been concentrating on and it helps when you have a good defense behind you.”
The Rangers took a 2-1 lead in their half of the second when Kevin Mench tripled and Nix followed with his 13th homer.
Huff’s homer in the third—the first allowed by Drese in 66 innings—tied the game at 2.
Sosa allowed five runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings.
“He pitched good enough to get the victory,” Tampa Bay catcher Brook Fordyce said.
Teixeira’s two-run homer off reliever Danys Baez in the eighth was his 28th.
The Rangers won the season series 7-2. Tampa Bay has never won a season series against Texas. … Texas designated left-hander Mike Bacsik for assignment and recalled infielder Manny Alexander from Triple-A Oklahoma. … The Devil Rays opened their seven-game road trip by beating Curt Schilling and the Boston Red Sox last Monday.