Napoli, Cruz homer for Rangers in 4-2 win over Ms

The Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Mike Napoli's three-run homer put the Texas Rangers ahead to stay. The catcher also blocked the plate to prevent a run and was in sync with pitcher Matt Harrison all night.

Not a bad all-around effort.

Nelson Cruz added a homer of his own and two outfield assists, combining with Napoli to deny Brendan Ryan an inside-the-park homer in the eighth inning, and Texas beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Monday night.

''That was awesome,'' said Harrison, who tossed eight strong innings.

Napoli and Cruz homered before Michael Saunders singled in the eighth for Seattle. Ryan followed with a liner to right-center that bounced over the glove of a diving Craig Gentry and rolled to the wall.

While Saunders scored easily, Cruz ran down the ball and threw to second baseman Ian Kinsler, who made a perfect relay to the plate. Napoli tagged out the sliding Ryan.

''I'm never going to forget that as long as I live,'' Ryan said. ''I don't even know where to start with that. ... I never had the opportunity before. Loss aside and all that, it would have been pretty sweet. Kind of a baseball bucket list thing.''

Except Ryan never touched the plate because of the block by Napoli after the heads-up play by Cruz.

''The play was really made by Nelson Cruz backing up that play when Gentry dove for the ball,'' Texas manager Ron Washington said. ''Kinsler made a really tremendous relay throw and Mike blocked the plate, but Nelson Cruz was the one that saved that run by backing up. He could have been watching what was going on, but instead was where he was supposed to be.''

Cruz homered in the second to tie the game at 1. Napoli went deep for the second game in a row when he hit a tiebreaking shot in the sixth.

Napoli's ninth homer came off reliever Steve Delabar (1-1), who gave up three runs while facing only four batters. Napoli was mired in a career-long 24-game homerless drought before his two-run shot Sunday.

''That was a huge hit for Mike, to give the team a boost like that,'' Kinsler said. ''It was kind of like we were waiting all night for the offense to just kind of explode and we could never do it, really. ... For Napoli to come up with that big hit, it was huge for the team and pretty much won the game.''

Harrison (6-3) struck out five and allowed two runs, less than a week after holding Seattle to one run over seven innings.

''I was just trying to hit Napoli's glove and make them put the ball in play. We were on the same page pretty much the whole game - shook him off twice,'' Harrison said. ''The defense was outstanding, and we ended up scoring some runs late.''

Cruz also got an outfield assist in the fifth after Kinsler misplayed Alex Liddi's popup in short right. Cruz picked up the ball and fired to first baseman Mitch Moreland to catch Liddi off base, and the runner was tagged out in a rundown.

Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 11th save in 12 chances. The right-hander had retired 17 consecutive batters before Jesus Montero reached on a one-out error by shortstop Elvis Andrus. Justin Smoak then grounded into a game-ending double play.

The Rangers (31-18) have the best record in the American League, but only one winning streak longer than four in a row - an eight-gamer in April.

After Kevin Millwood was replaced by Delabar to start the sixth, the reliever walked Adrian Beltre and gave up a single to David Murphy before striking out Cruz. With Rangers fans chanting ''Nap-o-li!, Nap-o-li!'', the catcher hit a 401-foot homer that ricocheted off the facade of the second deck of seats in right field for a 4-1 lead.

The 37-year-old Millwood struck out five and allowed only one run, but was done after throwing 97 pitches on a warm night in Texas, his home park from 2006-09.

''He really had to work for it and they made him work for it,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ''With the heat and how hard he worked, we weren't going to push him another inning. He's been pitching really well and you don't want one inning to affect his next start or next couple of starts.''

Millwood has allowed only two earned runs over 27 innings (0.67 ERA) in his last four starts. He matched his career-high streak of consecutive scoreless innings at 18 after getting through the first, but Cruz ended that an inning later with his one-out homer to right.

Seattle led 1-0 in the first after an RBI single by Montero.

NOTES: Mariners LF Chone Figgins snapped a 0-for-24 slide with a first-inning double, his first hit since April 29. ... Rangers RHP Scott Feldman (0-2) gets another start Tuesday, his second in a row against the Mariners since Neftali Feliz went on the disabled list. Feldman gave up a grand slam and lost at Seattle last Wednesday. ... Mariners lefty Jason Vargas (5-4, 3.39 ERA) starts Tuesday. ... Rangers right-handed reliever Alexi Ogando has a bruised right hand. Washington said Ogando was just sore. ... Washington said RHP Yu Darvish was getting treatment for back stiffness, but said the pitcher is fine.

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