Nationals 8, Rangers 2
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Travis Hughes always figured his first major league win could come in Texas—just not as a visiting pitcher.
Drafted by the Rangers in 1997 and released this spring, Hughes struck out three of the five batters he faced Sunday, helping the Washington Nationals beat Texas 8-2 to avoid a three-game sweep.
“It felt really good, especially with what happened before,” Hughes said. “It was nice to get a little revenge.”
Hughes (1-0) took over with two outs in the fifth after spot starter Sun-woo Kim left with a cramp in his right forearm. There was a 1-1 count on Michael Young, who then struck out against Hughes. Hughes struck out two more batters in the sixth.
“We always knew he had good stuff,” Young said. “I’m sure he’ll do fine over there.”
The 27-year-old Hughes didn’t know he had been awarded the victory until manager Frank Robinson told him in the clubhouse after the game, and then presented him with a ball.
Despite leaving with a 3-1 lead, Kim didn’t get the win since he didn’t complete five innings. He had started in place of Esteban Loiaza, who was scratched because of a sore neck and back.
After being claimed by Washington, Hughes made 32 appearances at Triple-A New Orleans before being recalled Saturday when the Nationals put T.J. Tucker on the disabled list. He didn’t pitch Saturday night.
“I wanted to get in bad against these guys,” he said.
Hughes made his major league debut with two appearances for the Rangers last September. He said he was treated well by the organization, and was surprised when he was released in April.
Washington never trailed after four straight singles provided a 2-0 lead in the first against C.J. Wilson (0-1), who made his first major league start and gave up three runs on nine singles over 3 2-3 innings.
Brad Wilkerson and Jamey Carroll, the top two hitters in the lineup, both went 3-for-5 and every starter had a hit for the Nationals, who finished with 15. Wilkerson hit a three-run double before Carroll had an RBI single in a five-run eighth.
“That broke the game open and give us some breathing room,” Robinson said. “Until then, it was our type of game. We can’t win when the other teams score big.”
The Nationals had won 12 of 13 games before the series against the last team to play in the nation’s capital. Before becoming the Texas Rangers, they were the expansion Washington Senators from 1961-71.
Mark Teixeira hit his major league-leading 20th homer in the bottom of the eighth. He also homered twice Saturday night in the Rangers’ 7-4 win.
“I feel good. My approach has been good. Good things are happening. But we’ve got three and a half months left,” Teixeira said. “It’ll be more meaningful in September. It’s not a big deal right now. If we win the World Series, you’ll see me happy.”
The four Washington hits in the first were a flare to right by Carroll followed by three straight grounders through the left side of the infield. Run-scoring hits by Nick Johnson and Marlon Byrd made it 2-0 before Ryan Church grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The hardest hit ball against Wilson was Wilkerson’s two-out RBI single in the fourth, a liner up the middle that made it 3-0. That was the last batter faced by Wilson, who threw 45 of 79 pitches for strikes with two strikeouts and no walks.
“That’s something to build on for my next start,” Wilson said. “Nobody sat back and teed off on me. I got groundballs, but some got through the hole. … I kept it down. That’s the way you have to pitch in this ballpark.”
Wilson took over in the Rangers rotation for Pedro Astacio, who was designated for assignment Friday. The left-hander was a fifth-round pick in 2001 and missed last season in the minor leagues after ligament replacement surgery.
Kim allowed three hits, including Richard Hidalgo’s 13th homer leading off the fifth. He struck out five and walked one, and Robinson said he was fine after the game.
Doug Brocail struck out six of 11 hitters faced after replacing Wilson. … Texas leadoff hitter David Dellucci was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. He has 10 strikeouts over 18 at-bats the past four games. … Washington is 10-5 in interleague play, and Texas is 8-7.