Victory gives Rangers winning record

Rangers set new May standard with 19 wins

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, for only the second time this season, have a winning record. They also have a club record for wins in May.

Up next could be second place in the American League West if June is as good to them as May was.

The Rangers finished off their renaissance month by riding the pitching of Sidney Ponson and the offensive work of the top of their lineup to an 8-4 victory over the Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday night. The victory, the Rangers' 22nd in their past 34 games, left them 29-28 on the season, the first time they have been over .500 since being 5-4 after their first nine games.

"It's significant where you think about where we came from," manager Ron Washington said. "We never had any doubt about getting there but we have another game tomorrow and another one after that. I'm just very happy we're playing good baseball, getting good pitching and timely hitting and playing good defense."

"Obviously, it's not our goal," shortstop Michael Young said. "But considering where we were earlier in the year, to get back over .500 at the end of May, we'll take that."

The Rangers finish May with a record of 19-10, their most victories ever for the month. Only the Blue Jays have won more games in May in the Major Leagues. The last time the Rangers won 19 games in a month was in June 1983 when they went 19-9.

The Rangers hit .289 for the month, including -- more significantly -- .307 with runners in scoring position. Their pitching staff finished with a 3.90 ERA in May and it's only the second time in the past 12 seasons that they've had a sub-4.00 ERA for the month.

"We're catching the ball, we're pitching the ball, we're doing the little things and we're getting big hits," Washington said. "You can't ask more than that."

The Rangers are also just a half-game behind the Athletics in the American League West. The last time the Rangers were higher than third place in the division -- outside of early April -- was when they spent Aug. 16, 2006, in second place.

"The goal is just to play good baseball," catcher Gerald Laird said. "Day in and day out, play good baseball and not worry about who's in front of you. If you win games, you'll catch them."

Want one more amazing piece of esoterica? Rangers pitchers for the second straight night did not walk a batter. This is only the third time in the past seven years that Rangers pitchers have gone two consecutive games without walking a batter.

"That's awesome," Laird said. "We're pounding the zone and making guys swing the bats to beat us. That keeps us from giving up the big inning."

Ponson did most of the strike-throwing. He allowed nine hits, but the lack of walks limited the damage to four runs in seven innings and he was able to run his record to 4-1 with a 3.83 ERA.

Ponson had only one bad inning. He took a 3-0 lead into the top of the fifth inning before the Athletics strung together five singles and a sacrifice fly to tie the score.

But the Rangers struck back with the top of their order in the bottom of the inning against Oakland starter and loser Joe Blanton. Ian Kinsler led off with a double and scored on Michael Young's single to right. Josh Hamilton then crushed a 1-0 changeup into the Rangers bullpen in right-center for his 14th home run of the season that gave the Rangers a 6-3 lead.

"That was big and we just started rolling from there," Washington said.

Hamilton also had an RBI in the first. Young tripled with one out in the inning, and Hamilton immediately brought him home with a grounder to second. He now has a Major League-leading 61 RBIs on the season.

But he is hardly the only hot hitter in the Rangers lineup. Young went 3-for-4 with a triple and two singles and has now hit in 16 straight games, the longest by a Ranger this season. Kinsler, who was 3-for-5 including an RBI single in both the third and eighth innings, has hit in a career-high 15 straight games. Those are the two highest active hitting streaks in the American League.

Frank Catalanotto is also rising quietly in the bottom half of the Rangers order, going 3-for-4 with an RBI double and now has 13 hits in his last 28 at-bats.

"We're clicking right now," Kinsler said. "We're good, we can swing the bats. All the way through the nine hole we have guys who are capable of putting up runs. Right now we don't have anybody who is killing our rallies."

Everything went well in May. The new month starts Sunday.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.