By Jeffrey Flanagan and Ryan Posner
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
ARLINGTON -- July has been a tough stretch for the Rangers, but they finished the month on a high note by completing a four-game sweep of the Royals with a 5-3 win on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park.
Mitch Moreland and Nomar Mazara hit two-run homers off Royals starter Dillon Gee to help send Kansas City to its sixth straight loss and drop them 12 games back of the first-place Indians in the American League Central. The Rangers increased their lead in the AL West to six games over the Astros, their biggest lead in the division since July 9, despite going 11-15 for the month.
"Four wins against a tough team gives us some momentum going forward," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "[The Royals] are down a little bit, they are missing some guys, but they're still tough. We're going to continue to show up, play hard-nosed baseball, get some quality starts and move forward."
The homers from Mazara and Desmond accounted for all the runs let up by Gee. He went a season-high six innings and gave up four runs on seven hits on the way to his third consecutive loss. The right-hander has a 6.35 ERA in seven starts.
"I felt like I pitched pretty well today," Gee said. "I made a couple mistakes that they obviously capitalized on. Two two-run homers that just cost us the game. For the most part, though, I felt like I pitched pretty good.
"Mazara, maybe it was just a case of trying to go to the well too many times. People threw him pretty well with curveballs earlier in the series and I got him to swing and miss at one earlier in the at-bat. I think I just went right back to it and he was kind of the mindset, 'I'm not going to beat by the same thing again.'"
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Moreland goes deep, again: The Rangers first baseman hit his fourth home run in his last 11 at-bats with a two-run shot in the fourth. Moreland has five homers in his last six games and hit four in the series sweep, including a walk-off shot on Saturday night. His seven since the All-Star break are tied with A's outfielder Khris Davis for most in the AL.
"I'm trying to go up there and have good at-bats. It definitely worked out well this series for me," Moreland said. "And not just me, we all had a lot of big hits in this series. It was a good run for us and hopefully it can carry over after the off day."
"That was a bad pitch," Gee said. "He did a good job of capitalizing on a mistake. Moreland, he's hot, hot as all get-out right now."
Gordon just misses: The left fielder nearly gave the Royals a 3-2 lead with one away in the fourth after Kendrys Morales led off with a walk. Gordon hit a fly ball that sent Mazara to the warning track in right field. But the right fielder brought it in with his back to the wall and kept the Rangers' lead at 2-1 before Moreland extended it with his homer in the bottom half of the inning.
Beltre ties Ruth on hit list: Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre collected career hit No. 2,873 with a single in the fourth, tying him with Babe Ruth for 43rd place on the all-time list. Beltre needs three more to tie Hall of Famer in Mel Ott for the No. 42 spot.
"It's pretty cool. Obviously it's nice to have your name in the same category as a guy like that," Beltre said. "I've been lucky enough to play this game for a long time. It's humbling to hear that, but there's still more to come."
Strahm struggles in debut: Left-hander Matt Strahm made his Major League debut in the seventh after being called up before the game to take place of Wade Davis, who went on the 15-day disabled list. The 24-year-old Strahm's debut was brief. He gave up a leadoff single and was then taken out of the game after walking Robinson Chirinos with one out. Peter Moylan came in and gave up a double to Hanser Alberto that scored Moreland, with the run being charged to Strahm. More >
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The Royals went 7-19 in July, tying a franchise worst mark for that month.
"We just got to get more production," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We got two runs on two swings. But just waiting for it to pick up."
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy will start the opener of a four-game road set against the Rays on Monday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Duffy has pitched at least six innings in six straight starts and has a 3.00 ERA over that span.
Rangers: After an off-day on Monday, right-hander Yu Darvish will start the opener of a three-game road series against the Orioles on Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. CT. Opponents are hitting .210 against Darvish in his last three outings.