Rangers close road trip with series victory

Rangers close road trip with series victory

Rangers close road trip with series victory
BALTIMORE -- As Josh Hamilton dressed in the Rangers' clubhouse at the end of a doubleheader, he didn't look like somebody who had just hit six home runs in four games.

"I'm tired ... hungry ... it will be nice to get home," Hamilton said. "You never know what will happen in this game, that's why you play the games. I'm excited I had a good series, but the series is over. We can go back home and get ready for Anaheim. We're ready to get home."

The Rangers haven't been home in a while, but they were headed back there late Thursday night after they closed out both a doubleheader and 10-game road trip with a 7-3 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

The road trip ended on a bizarre note, with reliever Robbie Ross warming up in the bullpen late in the game with the wrong jersey. He had forgotten to change it after the Rangers switched from gray to blue in the second game and somebody had to make an emergency run to the clubhouse to get the right one.

It didn't matter. Ross wasn't called upon to pitch as the Rangers finished up taking three of four from the Orioles. They were also 5-5 on the 10-game road trip and now open up a three-game series against the Angels on Friday night at the Ballpark in Arlington.

"We played pretty good baseball against a pretty good team," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They challenged us for all four games, and we're fortunate to get three of them."

Hamilton, who was 1-for-4 in the first game, a 6-5 loss, got the Rangers started in the nightcap with a two-run home run in the first inning off of Orioles starter Tommy Hunter. That gave him six home runs during the four-game series, and Hunter, who was with the Rangers for four years, was asked afterwards what it was Hamilton hit.

"He hit a baseball," Hunter said. "The dude is on fire. What do you want me to say? He is, he's a freak."

Hamilton got the Rangers going, but Mike Napoli's first triple in over two years and a big night at the plate from Elvis Andrus were instrumental in overcoming some early defensive problems.

Rangers starter Derek Holland gave up three unearned runs in the second but recovered and retired 14 of the last 17 batters he faced to get the win. Holland went six innings, allowing four hits, two walks and striking out five, raising his record to 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA.

"Derek was on his game," Washington said. "He battled through some early adversity, but we needed him to keep it right there until we got started. He kept his poise, minimized the damage and gave us a chance to grind out some at-bats."

That Orioles' second inning started when Adam Jones led off with a single and Matt Wieters hit a grounder at second baseman Ian Kinsler, who let it get under his glove while rushing to turn a double play. Jones went to third and scored on Wilson Betemit's sacrifice fly.

Mark Reynolds' single moved Wieters to second. Steve Tolleson followed with a hard smash to Andrus' left at shortstop. Andrus knocked it down and recovered but bounced his throw past first baseman Mitch Moreland. A run scored and Reynolds moved to third. He scored on Luis Exposito's routine fly ball when Hamilton threw wildly off the mark to home plate for the third error of the inning.

Holland didn't let it bother him. The Orioles would finish the second game 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

"I couldn't let it affect me," Holland said. "Those guys were working hard behind me and those things happen. It's my job to minimize the damage. I just continued to go after them. I was throwing strikes and they weren't hitting it hard."

That gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead, and Hunter held on to it going into the fifth. Then Nelson Cruz led off with a double. Napoli followed with a high fly down the right-field line and Nick Markakis tried to make a diving catch just inside fair territory. He missed, the ball got by him and Cruz scored the tying run.

Napoli raced to third and was credited with his first triple since April 30, 2010, while still with the Angels. He has five for his career, and he had gone 876 at-bats without one.

"I was just trying to get the runner over to third base with less than two outs," Napoli said. "I saw Markakis dive for it and I just kept running."

He stayed there as Moreland popped out and Kinsler grounded out. But Andrus smacked a single up the middle that brought home Napoli with the go-ahead run. Andrus also had an RBI single in the Rangers' three-run seventh, finishing the night 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and two RBIs.

"He came up big tonight," Washington said. "That was a big two-out hit he got us there, and after that we kept grinding out at-bats."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.