If the Cleveland Indians went to Texas to play spoiler in the American League Western Division race, they got off to a slow start as the Rangers hit four home runs including a pair from David Murphy and two RBI each from Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and Craig Gentry in a 10-4 win under 105 degree heat at Rangers Park in Arlington, Texas.
The loss left Cleveland with a magic number of 4 before being eliminated from the American League Central race, where the Detroit Tigers hold a 12-1/2 game lead over both the Indians and Chicago White Sox. Chicago (73-74) is tied with Cleveland but its magic number is 3 due to having played two more games than Cleveland. The magic number is a combination of wins by the first place team and losses by teams lower in the standings.
The win pushed Texas to 7-1 against Cleveland this season and 19-4 in games dating back to 2009.
Texas, which holds a 3 game lead on Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the AL West, broke it open with a 4-run sixth inning, the only inning of the five that the Rangers scored that did not include a home run.
The Rangers, who never trailed, saw the Indians tie the game twice at 1-1 in the fourth on the first of two home runs by Carlos Santana and again at 2-2 in the fifth when Jason Kipnis doubled home Kosuke Fukudome. Texas then tallied twice in the fifth when Josh Hamilton hit a 2-run home run for a 4-2 lead against Cleveland starter Justin Masterson (11-10) who went 5-plus innings giving up six runs on eight hits with there walks and two strike outs.
The Indians edged closer at 4-3 in the sixth on a pased ball that scored Santana, who was 3-for-4, scored three times and had two RBI.
Santana’s second home run of the night in the eighth gave him one from each side of the plate and 23 home runs on the season. The Indians team record for home runs in a season by a switch hitter is 25 set in 2007 by Victor Martinez. Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is also nearing Martinez with 22 home runs this season.
But that 4-run sixth for the Rangers psued the lead to 8-4 that was enough for Texas starter Matt Harrison (12-9) to get the win. Harrison went 5.0 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with a walk and three strike outs. Texas scored on a 2-run single by Craig Gentry and added two more on a 2-run double by Elvis Andrus.
Adrian Beltre then hit a solo home run to lead off the seventha and two batters later Mike Napoli singled home David Murphy, who went 4-for-4, scored four runs and drove in two with his two solo home runs.
The explosion continued a hot streak for the Rangers, with 14 hits marked the sixth consecutive game with at least 12 hits.
Cleveland’s bullpen, a team strength this season, went bust against the Rangers with rookies doing the damage. Nick Hagadone did not retire either of the hitters he faced in relief of Masterson in the sixth and both came around to score while Josh Judy didn’t allow a run in the inning he worked but allowed two inherited runners to score. Zach Putnam made his big league debut and gave up two runs on three hits in an inning of work.
The Indians slipped back below .500 at 72-73 but did not lose any ground in their race for second with Chicago (73-74), which lost to AL Central leading Detroit, 5-0.