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Don't miss out on the excitement:
By Art Garcia, The Sports Xchange June 20, 2013 12:10 AM
Texas Rangers are there after flirting with double-digit runs for the second time in three nights.ARLINGTON, Texas -- The signs of an offensive breakthrough for the
"Some guys are starting to figure things out throughout the lineup," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We're starting to get consistent." Texas pounded out 14 hits in beating the American League West-leading Oakland A's 9-4 Wednesday night at Rangers Ballpark. Texas (40-32) moved back within two games of Oakland (43-31) in the division. The four-game series ends Thursday afternoon, which also completes Texas' 11-game homestand. Leonys Martin went 2-for-3, scored twice and drove in a run in a rare start against a left-hander. The 25-year-old lefty centerfielder was a key part of rallies in the fifth and sixth innings, as the Rangers scored six unanswered runs. The surge made a winner out of Justin Grimm, who improved to 6-5. The Rangers didn't get a quality start out of Grimm, but the rookie did go five innings and left with the lead. "He gave us five and kept us in the ballgame," Washington said. "That's all you can ask for from your starter." That's progress for a staff that hadn't picked up a win in June, a 17-game winless stretch for starters that set a new franchise record. Texas was the only team in baseball without a win from a starter this month. "Yippee," Washington said with a smile. "I'm happy for Grimm. He got the win. He's been working hard." Texas broke the game open in the sixth, chasing Oakland starter Tommy Milone and opening up a five-run lead. Martin, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre each had run-scoring hits in the sixth. David Murphy had three hits in the game. In losing seven of the previous eight games, the Rangers scored two or fewer runs in each of the losses. Texas did beat the A's 8-7 in the series opener Monday. "You can't really put a finger on it," Kinsler said of the offensive woes. "We had quality at-bats tonight. We were really patient at the plate and making their guy throw a lot of pitches." Milone (6-7) gave up a season-high six runs in 5 1/3 innings, dropping to 0-3 all-time against the Rangers. A's reliever Dan Otero gave up another two runs in the sixth. Texas regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth thanks to Martin's speed on the base paths. David Murphy and Martin opened the inning with back-to-back singles, with Murphy going to third on Martin's hit to right. Martin stole second before Kinsler's sacrifice fly scored the tying run. Now at third, Martin broke for home on Cruz's hard grounder to third. Josh Donaldson elected to go home, but Martin slid around catcher Derek Norris' tag to put Texas up 4-3. "That's a big play," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "[Donaldson's] awareness was there. He just pulled the throw a little bit." Grimm held the A's in check through the first four innings before losing his command and falling apart in the fifth. The rookie right-hander walked two in the inning and, despite getting two outs, couldn't get the third before Oakland took its first lead. Chris Young took a 3-1 fastball over the centerfield wall for his seventh home run, giving the A's a 3-2 lead. Grimm had allowed just two hits through the first four innings, but couldn't find the strike zone against the bottom of Oakland's order. Josh Reddick and Eric Sogard, the Nos. 7 and 9 hitters, were walked. Visits from Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux and catcher A.J. Pierzynski didn't seem to help, as Grimm quickly fell behind Young. "He's doing pretty well in the leadoff spot," Melvin said of Young. "At the time, it's a huge home run. It's a momentum shift." The Rangers jumped out ahead 2-0 in the second on a rare show of power from Lance Berkman. The designated hitter smashed a Milone offering right down the middle of the plate into the Oakland bullpen in left-center. Berkman drove in Beltre, who opened the inning with a single. It was just the sixth homer of the season for Berkman and just his second since May 25. NOTES: Texas manager Ron Washington used his ninth different lineup in the first 10 games of this homestand. Hitting slumps and injuries have forced Washington's hand. "It's the nature of who I am playing out there," he said. ... Oakland starting pitchers were 17-5 with a 2.84 ERA in the last 31 games going into Wednesday. The staff was 14-21 (5.09 ERA) over the first 42 games of the season. ... Rangers 2B Kinsler not only needed three stitches to close a gash on his jaw Tuesday night resulting from a collision with Oakland C Jason Jaso, he had to pass a concussion test in the clubhouse before returning to the game. Umpires held the game up several minutes before the start of the fourth inning to wait on Kinsler.