Still, it sure feels good when he does.
“Yeah, it was fun,” Kinsler said. “I was able to jog around the bases instead of run.”
Kinsler ended a career-long 32-game homerless drought with a tiebreaking shot and the Texas Rangers quickly rebounded from their first loss in two weeks with a 7-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday.
The three-run drive off Josh Banks(notes) (0-1) in the fourth snapped a 2-all tie. It was Kinsler’s second homer of the season and first since May 18, the day after manager Ron Washington moved him to the No. 3 spot in the batting order and dropped Josh Hamilton(notes) to fifth—with Vladimir Guerrero(notes) between them.
“Honestly, I’m not too worried about hitting home runs, just because of the guys I have hitting behind me,” said Kinsler, who hit 31 homers last year before missing most of the first month this season with a high right ankle sprain. “You’ve got basically the best sluggers in the game right now.”
Hamilton extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a single in the sixth. He finished 1 for 4 with a walk and is batting .494 (40 of 81) during the three-week stretch, which has moved him to third in the majors with a .348 average.
AL West-leading Texas is 19-5 in June, which included a major league-best 11-game winning streak before a 7-4 loss to Houston in the series opener Friday night.
“We got back to winning baseball,” manager Ron Washington said.
C.J. Wilson(notes) (6-3) went seven innings to win his third consecutive decision over five June starts. With the temperature in the mid-90s, the left-hander threw 72 of his 112 pitches for strikes. He struck out three and walked four.
“It’s not a big deal at all. It’s completely overblown. My sixth year here, the heat has zero effect on me at this point,” Wilson said. “You just have to build yourself up. You have to build up to it.”
“After we took the lead in the fourth, it’s too bad we couldn’t shut it down,” Astros manager Brad Mills(notes) said. “(Banks) had to battle through a lot of things. He at least kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance to win.”
But Banks, added to the roster Saturday from Triple-A Round Rock to start in place of injured right-hander Felipe Paulino(notes) (right shoulder tendinitis), walked rookie Justin Smoak(notes) to start the bottom half before an RBI double by Max Ramirez(notes). Michael Young(notes) had a one-out single before Kinsler pulled a cutter down the left-field line.
“We just have to keep building on it,” Washington said. “I never concern myself with Ian. What he did today, I’ve seen him do often. So it’s just a matter of time, just getting his at-bats and feeling comfortable about what he’s doing out there.”
Kinsler missed the end of the game Friday night, when he was ejected after taking a called third strike for the third out of the third inning. He was thrown out after he flippantly tossed his bat, helmet and shin guard while still standing at home plate. That left him 0 for 2, ending a streak of four consecutive two-hit games.
But Kinsler, like the Rangers, quickly got back on track.
Kinsler had a leadoff double in the third and scored for a 1-0 lead on a single by Guerrero, who was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
The Rangers (45-29) had 15 hits, with every starter getting at least one. Cruz had three, including a triple, and Elvis Andrus(notes) had a two-run single. But they did leave 13 runners on base, the third time in four games they’ve stranded that many.
“There’s no breaks,” Banks said about the Texas lineup. “You’ve got to be on top of your game.”
When Michaels doubled into the left-field corner in the sixth, Pence was thrown out trying to score. David Murphy(notes) fielded the ball and the relay throw from Andrus was on target to Ramirez, who absorbed the hard collision and held onto the ball.
NOTES: With the win, the Rangers clinched the season series and retained the Sliver Boot Trophy for the fourth straight season and sixth in the last seven. Texas swept three games in Houston last weekend and has split the first two this time before the series finale Sunday. … The only other time Texas was 45-29 was in 1996, the year the Rangers won the first of their three AL West titles in a four-season span.