ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Rangers had to make up a big deficit to finally achieve a winning record. Now the Rangers hope to build on that accomplishment after a strong May.
Josh Hamilton homered and drove in three runs and the Texas Rangers moved above .500 with an 8-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.The Rangers (29-28) have won 22 of 34 games since starting the season 7-16, and crawled over the break-even mark for the first time since they were 5-4."We came out of spring training knowing we can play," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It just took us a while to put it together. None of us is thinking about just being a game over .500. We want to get further than that."The Rangers were able to dig out of their early hole by going 19-10 in May -- the first time the team has won 19 games in a month since June 1983.Hamilton was a big part of the May success, hitting eight homers with 29 RBIs in the month. The slugger pushed his RBI total to a major league-leading 61 with a two-run homer in the fifth."It's very significant," Hamilton said. "I had a little different attitude going into the game. I was ready to get over .500. When we got to .500, it was like we were 0-0. Now we're 1-0."Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Frank Catalanotto each added three hits for the Rangers, who battered Joe Blanton and the A's for 14 hits.Texas starter Sidney Ponson (4-1) allowed four runs and nine hits in seven innings. He threw 101 pitches, 70 of which were strikes."Ponson pounded the strike zone," said Oakland designated hitter Jack Cust. "He was just hitting his spots and keeping guys off balance."Eric Chavez had three hits, and Travis Buck and Jack Hannahan each drove in two runs for the A's, who equaled a season high with their fourth straight loss.Blanton (3-7) allowed a season-high six runs in six innings, giving up 10 hits and a walk.The A's, who have lost six of eight to the Rangers, dropped to 6-11 against AL West foes."It seems like we're kind of flat when we play [Texas]," Cust said. "I don't know why that it is."Oakland scored three runs in the fifth to tie the game at 3 before Texas took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning.Kinsler led off with a double, and Young brought him home with a base hit for a 4-3 lead. Moments later, Hamilton lined a 1-0 pitch from Blanton into the Texas bullpen in right field for his 14th home run to stretch the advantage to 6-3.Hamilton also supplied the Rangers' first run with a groundout that brought home Young, whose one-out triple in the first inning extended his hitting streak to 16 games."I'm happy the RBIs are still going," Hamilton said. "The guys ahead of me are getting on base and I feel comfortable in those situations."In the second, Gerald Laird and Catalanotto hit one-out singles before Brandon Boggs made it 2-0 with a run-scoring single. Kinsler extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an RBI single that made it 3-0."Texas has been playing well," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "They had a great month."Ponson allowed only one hit through four innings before the A's opened the fifth with three consecutive singles. Buck brought Oakland within 3-2 with a two-run single, and Hannahan tied things up with a sacrifice fly.Hannahan had an RBI double that brought Oakland within 6-4 in the seventh, but Ponson ended the threat by striking out Bobby Crosby.Catalanotto had an RBI double and Kinsler added a run-scoring single in the eighth.
Milton Bradley was back in the Texas lineup after being scratched 20 minutes before Friday's game with dizziness. Bradley was the designated hitter and was 0-for-4. ... Chavez is 4-for-12 since coming off the 60-day disabled list with a back injury Thursday. ... Oakland RHP Brad Ziegler made his career debut and gave up Kinsler's RBI single in the eighth before picking him off first base.