Andrus providing spark at bottom of order

Andrus providing spark at bottom of order

ARLINGTON -- There's been a lot of shuffling in the Rangers' order this season, but one constant has been the spark provided by shortstop Elvis Andrus at the bottom of the lineup.

Andrus' three hits were a few of the lone bright spots during the Rangers' 8-3 loss to the Brewers on Monday night, and it moved his average to .302. He's never ended a season with an average of at least .300. The closest Andrus came was in 2012, when he hit .286.

"I think that's a mark I always wanted to reach and believed I could do it," Andrus said. "The way I prepared in the offseason, and all the work I've been putting up trying to be consistent this year, [has] paid off."

One of Andrus' hits on Monday was a double in the fifth inning, giving him 14 extra-base hits this month -- more than any month in his eight-year career. He was driven in on a double by Carlos Gomez, who had three hits as well, for the Rangers' final run of the night.

Andrus is hitting .357 with a 1.116 OPS, to go with four homers, nine doubles and 12 RBIs, this month. But it's been his consistency that's impressed Rangers manager Jeff Banister. Andrus' average hasn't slipped under .280 since June 17.

"We talk about being stubborn with your approach, and that's what he's done so well this year," Banister said. "To be stubborn with an approach, you have to have supreme focus. You have to sell out to the approach, and he's done that."

The heart of the Rangers' order wasn't able to finish out the rallies fueled by Gomez and Andrus against Brewers starter Matt Garza. The 3-4-5 hitters in the Rangers' order -- Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre and Rougned Odor -- combined to go 0-for-12 and left 10 men on base.

"That's the mark of a veteran pitcher," Banister said of Garza. "He knows how to make pitches and knows how to get outs."

Andrus has enjoyed hitting near Gomez in the lineup, who is in a bit of a hot streak of his own. Gomez has multiple hits in his last five games and is hitting .378 in his last nine games. He drove in two of the Rangers' three runs on Monday.

"He's got more pop than me, for sure, but he can bunt the ball, hit it out of the park and he can go the other way," Andrus said. "With our speed, I think that's one of the things [Banister] is looking at every time we get up there."

Andrus admitted it's not always easy to play teams out of contention, like the Brewers, at this point in the season. The Rangers have already clinched American League West, but clinching home-field advantage is nearly of equal importance to them. They now trail the Red Sox by a half-game for the best record in the AL.

"They have nothing to lose and we're already in, but we still want to get the home-field advantage," Andrus said. "It's always tough. It's two different mentalities, but you have to go out there and try to win games."

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.