ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—The Texas Rangers avoided a letdown after winning a big weekend series over their closest playoff competitor.
After taking two of three over the weekend from Boston, the Rangers stretched their advantage to one game over the Red Sox atop the wild-card standings.
Josh Hamilton(notes) had two hits and scored twice as he batted third in the Rangers lineup for the first time since July 25. David Murphy(notes) added two RBIs for Texas, which jumped out to a 7-2 lead after the second.
“We’re trying to take the approach of keeping the intensity like Boston is here every day or the Angels are here every day.” said Hamilton, who was dropped to as low as seventh in the lineup earlier this month.
Since he was called up from the minors on June 28, Hunter has gone 6-2 with a 2.38 ERA in nine starts.
“The first two innings, Tommy had trouble with his command,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “But he hung out there and fought like the warrior that he is.”
Minnesota All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau(notes) left in the fourth inning with an inner ear infection. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the 2006 MVP is day-to-day after he began experiencing dizziness.
Gardenhire also said after the game that Twins starter Francisco Liriano(notes) (5-12) will go on the disabled list Tuesday with a tired arm. The left-hander gave up seven runs, tying a career high, and seven hits in two innings.
“It will be a break both mentally and physically,” Gardenhire said. “He’s part of our present, but he’s part of our future too. We don’t want to do anything to hurt him.”
It was Liriano’s shortest start since lasting two-thirds of an inning April 24, 2008 against Oakland.
Minnesota starting pitchers have lasted only a combined 8 1-3 innings the past three games.
“I didn’t say anything about my arm in the first inning,” Liriano said. “I wanted to go four or five innings to save the bullpen.”
The Rangers (67-50) are 17 games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 26, 2004. The Rangers were in contention until the final week of the 2004 season, the last time the club made a serious playoff push.
“We’re in territory we’ve never been before,” Washington said. “We’re learning and showing a lot of character.”
The Rangers answered Mauer’s 23rd home run with three runs in the first.
Young’s RBI double cut Minnesota’s deficit to 3-2.
NOTES: Texas C Kevin Richardson(notes) had two hits in his first career game. … Gardenhire said after the game that RHP Anthony Swarzak(notes) will start Thursday instead of LHP Brian Duensing(notes). … Texas 2B Ian Kinsler(notes), who was hit by a pitch that ricocheted off his shoulder to his head Saturday night, was plunked again. This time, the pitch brushed the front of his jersey near his belt.