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Rangers-Royals Preview

AP - Sports

The Texas Rangers have used the long ball as their primary source of offense the past few days while moving a season-best 26 games over .500.

The Kansas City Royals already know attempting to intimidate them won't slow them down.

Texas looks to continue its power surge against the host Royals as the teams resume their four-game series Tuesday night.

The Rangers homered four times in Sunday's 8-3 win over Cleveland, then blasted five more in Monday's 8-4 victory over Kansas City as Texas (80-54) moved four games ahead of second-place Oakland in the AL West.

The AL's best team has 32 hits over its last three games, with 11 leaving the park. Josh Hamilton hit his 38th homer Monday to tie Adam Dunn for the major league lead, while Geovany Soto, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Michael Young also went deep.

Cruz was hit by a pitch from Louis Coleman leading off the ninth inning, leading to the benches and bullpens clearing for an exchange of words.

Young proceeded to hit Coleman's next pitch out of the park, and Coleman was removed.

"That was an outstanding sequence,'' manager Ron Washington said. "Not the fact Cruz got hit, but the fact Michael hit the home run. I don't know what that was about, but undoubtedly it didn't affect us because we put another two runs on the board and got him out of the game."

Cruz took exception to being hit and had no doubt he was targeted.

"I know they hit me on purpose," Cruz said. "They can say what they want to say, but if you play this game long enough, you know."

Royals manager Ned Yost neither confirmed nor denied intent.

"You saw the pitch before -- I mean, (Cruz) hit it nine miles," Yost said. "So, yeah, I think Louis was trying to pitch in on him to keep him from extending his hands."

Nevertheless, Texas has won three of the last four meetings with the Royals (60-74) and will look to keep rolling with help from Matt Harrison, who hopes to bounce back from a rough outing.

Harrison (15-8, 3.30 ERA) allowed seven runs and 12 hits - including a career worst-tying three homers - in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday. He had given up three earned runs over his previous three starts combined.

"I didn't give us a chance,'' Harrison said. "It was just a bad night.''

The left-hander, though, was solid in Kansas City on Aug. 3, giving up two runs over 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 victory.

Jeremy Guthrie allowed three runs in six innings in that contest, and he'll oppose Harrison again Tuesday.

The right-hander allowed 10 hits but only one run in 7 1-3 innings to beat Detroit 2-1 on Thursday, improving to 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA over his last five starts.

"The biggest thing was I was able to keep nine of (Detroit's hits) to singles and just allow the one extra-base hit," Guthrie said. "That was kind of the big key in allowing the hits, but not the runs."

Guthrie (3-3, 3.86), though, is 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA in his last four starts versus Texas, and Young is 11 for 28 (.393) with a homer and three doubles off him.

Guthrie didn't give up a homer to the Rangers the last time he faced them, but he ranks among the worst in the majors with 26 allowed.

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