<
>

Blalock's two-run shot wins game

MIAMI (AP) -- After getting swept at Cincinnati, the Texas Rangers
salvaged their roadtrip by winning three straight against
the Florida Marlins.

"We played like garbage in Cincinnati," Hank Blalock said.
"It was good to be able to come in here and sweep the world
champions."

Blalock hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning to give the
Rangers a 4-2 victory Sunday. His homer off newly acquired reliever
Billy Koch came after Texas closer Francisco Cordero blew a save in
the ninth and prevented Kenny Rogers from becoming the first
10-game winner in the majors.

Michael Young opened the 11th with a single, and Blalock
followed with his 17th homer of the season on the first pitch from
Koch (0-1).

Ron Mahay (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win as
Texas recorded its first three-game sweep on the road since last
August against Detroit.

Rogers allowed four hits and one run in seven strong innings and
appeared on his way to improving to 10-2 as the Rangers took a 2-1
lead into the ninth.

But Mike Lowell's two-out single with two strikes scored Alex
Gonzalez with the tying run. Cordero blew just his second save of
the season in 22 chances.

Rogers, though, took more comfort in his team bouncing back from
four straight losses coming into the series and picking up momentum
as the Rangers return home for a series beginning Tuesday against
Seattle.

"After starting out 0-3 on the trip, we needed these three
games. It was a big three games for us," Rogers said.

Gonzalez opened the ninth for Florida with a walk and took
second on Abraham Nunez's sacrifice. Luis Castillo grounded out for
the second out, and Jeff Conine reached on a walk. Lowell then hit
a sharp single to left that scored Gonzalez and sent Conine to
third.

Cordero got out of the inning by retiring Miguel Cabrera on a
grounder.

At least Cordero was rescued by Blalock after blowing the save.
Koch, acquired in a trade last Thursday to fortify the Marlins'
bullpen, is off to a shaky start, having allowed a run in his only
other inning of work prior to Sunday.

"This is unacceptable," Koch said "I threw a terrible pitch
and it cost us."

The fastball by Koch caught enough of the plate to suit Blalock,
who drilled it to right field.

"I was just looking for something to hit hard, maybe something
to pull to get him (Young) to third," Blalock said.

Rod Barajas hit his ninth homer, a two-run shot in the second,
to give Texas a 2-1 lead.

Rogers allowed a leadoff triple to Castillo to open the game.
Castillo scored on Jeff Conine's groundout, but that was all the
Marlins could muster until the ninth.

After allowing the first two batters to reach in the third,
Rogers retired 15 of the last 19 he faced.

"The key for Kenny was pitching seven innings," Texas manager
Buck Showalter said. "He had some trouble early, but he pitched
out of it."

Marlins starter A.J. Burnett worked seven innings and allowed
three hits and two runs, while striking out six. It was the second
impressive outing in a row for Burnett, who was making his fourth
start since returning from elbow surgery in April 2003.

"I'm getting better each time out and not trying to overdo
anything," Burnett said. "Overall, this was another good step in
my comeback."

Game notes
The teams combined for four errors, pushing the total to
nine in the last two games. ... Texas second baseman Alfonso
Soriano committed an error for the second straight game, bobbling a
grounder by Mike Lowell in the first. ... The Marlins juggled their
lineup, with Juan Pierre dropping from the leadoff spot to No. 7
and Jeff Conine moving into the No. 2 spot. ... The Rangers homered
in 12 straight games, their longest streak in nearly two years. The
last time the Rangers hit homers in 12 straight was from Aug.
29-Sept. 9, 2002.