The Rangers, cutting off the Royals' winning spurt of three games at the beginning of the homestand, will go for a sweep on Sunday as they continue their quest for a third straight World Series appearance.
Rangers right-hander Scott Feldman gave up just two runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings and Royals manager Ned Yost was asked if he thought his hitters might have done more against him.
"Noooo, I think we did pretty good off Feldman. He had a tremendous two-seamer going this way, a tremendous cutter going this way and a split and a curveball going this way," Yost said, gesturing in different directions with his hands. "So he had three pitches going on three planes and was throwing strikes with all three of them."
Operating against rookie left-hander Will Smith, the Rangers got two runs in the third inning and then, in an odd twist, ran themselves into two outs on a play that began with an error.
With one out, Ian Kinsler singled and Elvis Andrus doubled, both into right field, putting them in scoring position with Josh Hamilton at the plate. Though struggling mightily in recent weeks, Hamilton still was the co-leader of the Majors with 88 RBIs. Make that 90 -- he flicked a soft liner into left field to get both runners home against Smith.
"He got a pitch up to Hamilton that he kind of dropped into left field but, for the most part, I thought he competed well," Yost said. "I thought he did a really nice job of keeping his pitches down and changing speeds against a tough lineup."
Next Adrian Beltre singled, followed by Nelson Cruz's hopper that glanced off shortstop Alcides Escobar's glove. He chased down the ball in short center by which time Hamilton was standing at third base, merely observing while Beltre rounded second and headed toward him. Oh-oh. So Escobar flipped to Chris Getz who caught up to the braking Beltre and tagged him out, then turned and fired to Escobar in time to retire Cruz sliding into second base. End of inning.
"Esky did a nice job on a very tough bounce, an in-betweener, hustled hard after the ball, gave it up to Getzy who did a good job of getting the out and returning the throw to Esky," Yost said. "It was a great hustle play all the way around."
The Rangers added a run in the fourth and the Royals came back with two runs in the fifth. The 3-2 score left Yost with a decision in the Rangers' sixth. With two on and two out, should he bring in a reliever to face No. 9 hitter Mike Olt?
"I told Chino [bench coach Chino Cadahia] in that situation the last four times that we've been down a run and you're trying to keep it at that, I brought a reliever in and he's given up a hit," Yost said. "I felt good with the ninth spot in the order."
So Smith faced Olt, but he singled up the middle to drive in the Rangers' fourth run. That's when Yost brought in Kelvin Herrera, who retired Ian Kinsler on a popup.
"I wasn't going to let him face Kinsler but I wanted to see if he could get Olt out, and he made a darn nice pitch and Olt hit a good pitch," Yost said.
Overall, Yost was pleased with the progress that Smith has shown and so was the young lefty.
"I feel a little step-by-step process," Smith said. "Each day I go with a little something to work on out there and it just keeps coming."
Rangers manager Ron Washington also was impressed.
"Finesser, he's a finesser. Not a whole lot of fastball, but he had good secondary stuff, good breaking ball, moved his fastball around," Washington said. "He looked like he's got great mechanics out there. I can see why he can keep his team in a ballgame."
The defensive play of the game came in the ninth inning when Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson spared reliever Jeremy Jeffress a couple of runs. There were two on and two out when Dyson raced into left center and dove to spear Adrian Beltre's line drive bid for extra bases.
"It was hit pretty decent and it hung up a little bit. I just got a good jump on it and made the play," Dyson said.
Dyson joined Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer in two-hit games and also swiped his 21st base despite a Texas pitch-out.
Not enough, though, to stop the Rangers from winning their fourth in a row.