By Jordan Bastian and August Fagerstrom
CLEVELAND -- Mitch Moreland launched a go-ahead home run off Indians lefty Nick Hagadone in the eighth inning, helping power Texas to a 4-3 victory over Cleveland on Tuesday night. The win marked the seventh in a row for the surging Rangers and put them at .500 for the first time since beating the Astros to earn their third win on April 11.
Texas slugger Prince Fielder fell a triple shy of a cycle in the win, which improved the Rangers' record to 7-1 on their current nine-game trek through Boston, New York and Cleveland. In those eight games, Fielder has hit .486 (17-for-35) with five home runs and 15 RBIs.
"As good as I've seen," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Fielder's run. "He's a tremendous hitter. The first two-at bats, you saw two balls driven to left field. And then to come up for the third at-bat and hit the breaking ball out of the ballpark, it's just exceptional. We needed that obviously, down three, to tie the ballgame up."
Jason Kipnis and Ryan Raburn each belted a home run in the first inning against Rangers starter Wandy Rodriguez, giving the Tribe a quick 2-0 lead. Rodriguez managed to walk away with a no-decision despite some control woes (five walks in 5 1/3 innings), limiting Cleveland to three runs on four hits.
Indians starter Danny Salazar also ended with a no-decision after allowing three runs on six hits in his 5 2/3 innings. The hard-throwing righty struck out six, issued three walks and gave up all three runs on one pitch. With one out in the fifth inning, Fielder continued his strong May showing with a towering three-run homer to right field.
Indians outfielder Michael Brantley had a chance to swing the game in Cleveland's favor in the ninth inning, but grounded out to end the game, stranding two runners to finish an 0-for-5 night at the plate.
"We had some opportunities, that's for sure," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's the way the game goes. I'm glad we had the opportunities right up until the end, especially with Brantley hitting. I'll take our chances every time."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Leading off: Kipnis wasted little time in putting the Indians on the board. Four pitches into the contest, the Indians second baseman pulled a pitch from Rodriguez to right field for his fifth home run of the season. It also represented the fourth leadoff homer of Kipnis' career. The hot-hitting second baseman upped his hit total to 43 in May.
Lefty specialist: Raburn headed into Tuesday's action batting .339 (19-for-56) against left-handed pitching this season. The Cleveland outfielder continued that trend with a pair of hits against Rodriguez. Raburn sliced an 0-1 pitch to right field in the first inning for a two-out solo home run, and later doubled and scored for the Tribe in the fourth.
Blast off: After Salazar cruised through 4 1/3 innings, Fielder changed the game with one swing of the bat, as he is known to do. Following a walk of Leonys Martin and a Shin-Soo Choo hit-by-pitch, Fielder deposited a Salazar slider deep into the seats in right-center field 447 feet away from home plate, tying the score at 3. It was Fielder's team-leading 10th home run.
"There's no downplaying that," Moreland said. "What he's doing right now is unbelievable. He's making it look easy. He's kind of put us on his shoulders and carried us through this."
Just one Moreland: The Rangers got their go-ahead run in the eighth inning when Moreland went yard off Hagadone, who had retired five straight before the blast. That gave the Rangers the lead for good. The homer was Moreland's fifth of the season, and first off a left-handed pitcher since September 9, 2013.
"I'd like to believe that our process of having the lefties face lefties in Spring Training is paying off for us," Banister said. "Moreland's swung the bat well off left-handers. Prince has really swung the bat well off of left-handers. I'd like to think that's been part of the whole process."
"I don't think there's anybody else we'd rather have up there besides him. Even when I'm going well, I'd still rather have him up over me. The guy is just that good and it goes to show why this is a team game and it can't just be all on him. He's going to have these nights. He's allowed to have these nights where he's 0-for-5 and other guys have to step up and pick him up." --Kipnis, on Brantley's uncharacteristic hitless showing
Salazar was treated on the field by a team trainer during the fifth inning due to a cut in the fingernail on his right middle finger. The pitcher said he sustained the minor injury on the slider that Fielder turned into a three-run home run. The issue is not considered serious. In the ninth, Carlos Santana was hit on the left wrist by a pitch from Texas closer Shawn Tolleson. Francona indicated that X-rays on Santana's wrist came back fine, but the team will monitor the first baseman closely on Wednesday.
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Kipnis currently sits two hits shy of joining Roberto Alomar (54 hits in September 2000) as the only Cleveland players since 1948 to have 45-plus hits in a month. The club record for a single month is 67 hits by Hall of Famer Tris Speaker in July 1923.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers:Colby Lewis (4-2, 3.49 ERA) gets the start for Texas on Wednesday at 11:10 a.m. CT, looking to retain his early season form after a pair of ineffective starts. Lewis has allowed 10 earned runs in his previous two outings, after allowing just 12 earned runs in his first seven starts
Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (5-4, 4.74 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. ET, when the Indians conclude a three-game set with the Rangers and a six-game homestand. Carrasco has gone 3-2 with a 4.81 ERA in five May starts, striking out 35 and walking nine in 33 2/3 innings.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.