ARLINGTON -- Despite Prince Fielder's down year at the plate, the 31-year-old designated hitter has been a leader in the Rangers clubhouse during his three-year stint with the team. That made the news before Monday's game that he's expected to have season-ending neck surgery for the second time in three years a tough pill to swallow.
But the Rangers got a boost from another unquestioned leader in their 7-6 win over the A's in Adrian Beltre, who belted a two-run walk-off homer to left-center to help the Rangers gain their first game over the Astros in the American League West standings since June 26. It was his ninth career walk-off homer, and traveled an estimated 410 feet, per Statcast™.
It was the second of two home runs Beltre had on the night.
"We're all sad because we all love Prince. He's a great guy. It's sad," Beltre said. "But we all know we have to step up and be more consistent."
Beltre had a tough start to July, and was batting just .233 this month entering Monday's game. But he has three home runs in his last three games, and has multiple hits in four of his last five.
"This is a guy who leads this ball club on the field. It's what he does. You can see it on his face, he knows what's at stake," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. " … It's incredible. He never stops impressing anybody, or any of us, in what he can do."
Before Beltre ended the game, he made it 6-5 in the seventh with a line-drive solo homer that just cleared the wall in right field. That homer placed him alone at No. 47 on the all-time home run list, passing recently-inducted Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza and breaking up a tie with Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera.
Beltre ended the night with 429 career home runs. Next up on the list is another Hall of Famer in Cal Ripken Jr., who had 431. He added two singles before the two home runs to give him a 4-for-5 line, his first four-hit game of the year.
"We got behind early in the game but Martin [Perez] did a great job keeping it close. We know if it's close we have a really good chance," Beltre said. "We have a great offense. We were able to fight back little by little and find a way to win the game."
Perez picked up his 15th straight quality start at home, tying a club record, despite some questionable defense behind him. The Rangers committed two errors while he was on the mound, resulting in two of the five runs he gave up being unearned.
He rebounded nicely, though, to throw three straight scoreless frames before leaving after the sixth inning. Left-hander Jake Diekman went on to pick up his second win of the season after throwing a scoreless ninth inning.
"[My coaches] always tell me, 'Keep the game close and we're going to win this game,'" Perez said. "And that's what we were able to do. We have a good team. If we stay together we're going to win games like tonight."
Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.