Beltre's blast helps Dempster win fourth straight

Beltre's blast helps Dempster win fourth straight

Beltre's blast helps Dempster win fourth straight
KANSAS CITY -- Ryan Dempster won his fourth straight start and Joe Nathan tied his personal best for consecutive save opportunities. Adrian Beltre remains on fire and the Rangers are now back to a five-game lead in the American League West.

But the Royals did not make all of that come easy, especially for the Rangers' top three relievers, who were in danger of turning what should have been a routine victory over a team that is now 14 games under .500 into a disaster.

Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams and Nathan combined to give up four runs in the final three innings, but the Rangers were still able to hold on to a 7-6 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The Rangers' 14th victory in their last 20 games wasn't secure until Nathan got Alex Gordon on a line drive to left for the final out in the ninth.

"They're human," Washington said about his Big Three in the bullpen. "They're only human. They have been throwing up zeros left and right. Tonight, they got enough outs and didn't give up enough runs to make it a disaster. They got the job done. Some nights it works that way."

The Rangers are now 73-1 when leading after eight innings this season, including 35-0 on the road. Nathan hasn't blown a save since April 11, although the Royals almost pulled it off.

"They just wouldn't go away, would they?" Nathan said. "They never do. I've seen these guys time and time again, and they're a scrappy bunch. They figure out a way to scratch and claw it seems like every time, especially facing these guys, especially in this park. It's always been a close game. I've seen these guys a bunch when I was with the Twins, and it's no different now. They find a way to make games out of everything."

Nathan and Co. were still able to allow Dempster to run his winning streak to four after holding the Royals to a pair of runs in six innings. Dempster, who allowed four hits and two walks while striking out eight, has a 1.73 ERA in those four starts.

"I'm executing pitches," Dempster said. "I've been able to do a good job of that. If you make more good pitches than bad pitches, you're going to get good results no matter who you're facing. Tonight, I was able to keep the ball out of the middle of the plate."

Dempster has emerged as the Rangers' most reliable starter of late after going 1-1 with an 8.31 ERA in his first three starts in the American League. He is also 5-1 with a 4.36 ERA in seven starts since being acquired from the Cubs at the Trade Deadline.

"I was in a situation where you're playing for pride, and now you're pitching to win a division title and go to the playoffs," Dempster said. "I'm trying to do my part and be prepared, and do the best I can."

Beltre did his part once again with a three-run home run in the first inning after falling behind 0-2 in the count against Royals starter Everett Teaford. Beltre, whose blast came after a leadoff single by Ian Kinsler and a one-out walk by Josh Hamilton, has 10 home runs in his last 14 games. He has 20 RBIs in that stretch as well.

"He has been hot before, but this is the hottest I've ever seen him," Washington said. "He's just not missing his pitches and we needed everything that he gave us tonight."

That included a triple to lead off the eighth and he ended up scoring on a single by Nelson Cruz. That gave the Rangers a 7-4 lead, but this was a night where none of their leads looked secure until the end.

"They kept coming back," Beltre said. "Every time we scored, they kept coming back. We knew it wasn't going to be easy because those guys can swing the bats."

"We played catch-up all night," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "When we'd get close, they'd tack on. We just really couldn't do much with Dempster. [He] located his pitches extremely well, really worked at the knees on both corners in and out."

Dempster left after six with the Rangers holding a 3-2 lead. The Rangers then struck for three more in the seventh again Royals reliever Vin Mazzaro, as Michael Young led off with his sixth home run of the season. After David Murphy grounded out, Geovany Soto drew a walk and Mitch Moreland, who was pinch-hitting for Mike Olt, doubled off the fence in right.

That left the Rangers with runners at second and third. Reliever Aaron Crow took over to face Kinsler, who flied out to deep left field. The wind blowing in from left kept it from being a three-run home run, but Soto was still able to score on the sacrifice fly. Elvis Andrus then flared a single to left that drove home Moreland and gave the Rangers a 6-2 lead.

"The seventh inning did us in," Yost said after his team almost "did in" the Rangers' bullpen.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for 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.