Beltre broke out of an extended slump just as manager Ron Washington had predicted, with a three-run double among his four hits, backing eight scoreless innings by Derek Holland in a 7-0 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
“It’s nice to get involved with the other guys,” Beltre said. “It’s nice to get into the groove a little bit and hopefully that’ll be the start of another streak.”
Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland both had three hits for the AL West-leading Rangers, who rebounded from their first series loss of the season and four losses in the previous five games with a season-high 18 hits. The entire team had only three hits against the Chicago White Sox the previous night.
While his home run Thursday produced the only run in the Rangers’ 3-1 loss to the White Sox, Beltre grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the sixth, and struck out with two runners on two innings later. He was only 4 for 31 (.129) his previous eight games and 2 for 20 the last five.
“Beltre has got a track record, and the guys in my lineup have got a track record,” Washington said. “Beltre is a run producer, there wasn’t anyone more upset about it than Beltre. But I’m happy that he said he’s not frustrated because when you get frustrated you go blind. And undoubtedly, tonight he wasn’t blind.”
Holland (2-2) had a season-high nine strikeouts and allowed only six singles to win his fifth straight against the Red Sox.
“I had no clue,” Holland said of that streak. “That’s a great ball club over there. I’m not going to get caught up in that. They can strike back at any time. `’
The left-hander’s lone loss came as a rookie at Fenway Park in June 2009, his third career start. He’s 5-1 with a 2.41 ERA in six starts against the Red Sox.
“That was pretty impressive,” Moreland said. “He did whatever he wanted to with the ball, that was a lot of fun to watch and play behind because he was pretty dominant.”
After Holland threw 112 pitches, Derek Lowe worked a perfect ninth to wrap up the Rangers’ fifth shutout this season.
Boston (20-9) still has the best record in the majors, but was shut out for the third time this season.
Nine of Texas’ hits off starter Felix Doubront (3-1) came with two outs, including Beltre’s bases-clearing double to left-center in the fourth that made it 5-0 and chased the left-hander after 97 pitches.
“Overall, the lack of a finishing pitch. I think he had nine guys with two strikes and eight got on base,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “It wasn’t as much finishing off an individual guy as it was finishing off an inning and it ran the pitch count up.”
Mike Napoli with a majors-best 22 extra-base hits and 31 RBIs in his first month with the Red Sox, was 0 for 4 in his first game back at Rangers Ballpark.
Napoli, who hit 54 home runs the last two seasons for the Rangers and made his only World Series appearance with them two years ago, was greeted with the old chants of “Nap-o-li!, Nap-oli!” when he batted for the first time. But the fans were cheering when the Red Sox first baseman then struck out.
“It was nice. I always loved playing here,” Napoli said.
That was a much different reaction than five-time All-Star slugger Josh Hamilton got in his return with the Los Angeles Angels last month, when the 2010 AL MVP was booed throughout that weekend series.
Texas went ahead to stay when Jeff Baker had a two-out double in the second and scored on Craig Gentry’s infield single. The Rangers had three singles in the third without scoring before their five-run outburst in the fourth.
Moreland had a one-out single in the fourth before Gentry struck out. Then Kinsler and Elvis Andrus had consecutive singles, the second pushing home a run to make it 2-0. Lance Berkman walked to load the bases, and everybody was running on a full-count pitch when Beltre doubled to left-center. Nelson Cruz then had an RBI single.
An inning later, Moreland had another one-out single and scored on Kinsler’s seventh double in his nine-game hitting streak.
David Ortiz beat out an infield single leading off the second, extending his season-opening hitting streak to 11 games since coming off the disabled list. Ortiz has an overall hitting streak of 23 games dating to last season, the longest active streak in the majors.
NOTES: Doubront has a career ERA of 12.60 in his four career appearances at Rangers Ballpark. … After Beltre’s single to right in the first, Andrus was tagged out when he went too wide around second base and couldn’t get back in time, ending the inning. … Boston is 8-2 in series openers this season.