<
>

Texas 6, Kansas City 3

5/21/2004

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Rod Barajas will find himself in the
starting lineup for the Texas Rangers a lot more often.

The backup catcher showed he's up to the task.

Barajas replaced an injured Gerald Laird and hit a three-run
double, and Hank Blalock had a two-run homer in a five-run second
inning as the Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-3
victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.

"When you're called upon, you need to be ready to help the
team," said Barajas, 13-for-28 over his last eight games to raise
his average to .326.

Barajas entered in the second inning in place of Laird, who tore
a ligament in his left thumb on a tag play in the first inning.

Laird will have an MRI on Friday morning to determine the extent
of the damage, but the Rangers fear he could be out for an extended
period.

"It's obvious he'll be on the (disabled list)," Rangers
manager Buck Showalter said. "He could be back by August, which
would be three months, or maybe we'll find out tomorrow that it's
not that bad."

Laird was on his way to a breakout season, starting the night
leading AL rookies in hits (27), runs (14), batting average (.307)
and on-base percentage (.374).

"It's pretty frustrating," said Laird, staring at his badly
swollen thumb. "I was off to a good start and hopefully this was
going to be a big year for me."

Barajas went 3-for-4 with two doubles. His bases-clearing double
in the second turned the momentum back on the Rangers' favor after
they fell behind in the first inning 2-0.

"It's tough (for Laird)," Barajas said. "He was having a
great rookie campaign. I feel bad for him, but I'm excited because
I love to play baseball every day. This isn't how I wanted the
opportunity, but I want to take advantage."

Kevin Mench also homered for the Rangers, who lost four of five.

The Rangers wanted to get back on track with former teammate
Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees coming to Texas on Friday
for a three-game series.

"But it doesn't matter who you're playing next, you don't want
it to snowball," Barajas said.

Rangers starter Kenny Rogers (6-2) allowed three runs and 10
hits over 6 2-3 innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Francisco Cordero got three outs for his 13th save in as many
chances.

Ken Harvey and Adrian Brown had two hits each for the Royals,
who went without a homer after hitting six while winning the first
two games of the three-game series.

"We had our chances to score some runs, but we couldn't get the
big hit," Royals manager Tony Pena said.

The Royals took a 2-0 lead in an odd first inning.

Harvey hit a bases-loaded grounder that was headed toward
Rangers shortstop Michael Young, who was set to attempt to start a
double play. But the ball struck the foot of baserunner Mike
Sweeney between second and third base before it could reach Young,
with Sweeney being called out and Harvey credited with a single to
keep the bases loaded.

Rogers hit Joe Randa with a pitch to force in one run. Benito
Santiago followed with a single that drove in Juan Gonzalez from
third, but Harvey was thrown out at the plate trying to score from
second while Laird injured his thumb as he applied the tag.

Laird said the thumb on his glove hand was crushed by Harvey's
shin in the play at the plate.

"I felt pain and when I took the glove off, it was already
swelling," Laird said.

Texas rallied to take a 5-2 lead against Darrell May (1-6) in
the second, loading the bases with one out. Mench led off with a
single, Eric Young reached on third baseman Randa's fielding error.
After an out, Laynce Nix singled to load the bases and Barajas
followed with his three-run double. One later, Blalock hit his 12th
homer.

Mench's solo homer in the third extended Texas' advantage to
6-2. Angel Berroa's sacrifice fly in the fourth made it 6-3.

May allowed six runs and eight hits over four-plus innings.

Game notes
Showalter argued that Sweeney didn't make an effort to get
out of the way of the ball that hit him in the first. If Showalter
prevailed, the Rangers would have been credited with a double play.
"If it (Sweeney getting hit with the ball) was on purpose, it was
a great play because he didn't get caught," Michael Young said.
... Barajas hadn't played since last Friday. ... Rangers SS Young
had his 22nd multihit game, tops in the majors. ... Rogers has
pitched into the seventh inning seven times in nine starts.