ARLINGTON, Texas -- Small ball led to a big victory for the Texas Rangers.
Three straight ninth-inning bunts set up Michael Young's winning single as the Rangers rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday night."You just have to play baseball according to the way it presents itself," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of the ninth-inning bunts. "We executed. Great execution in that inning. Great execution."
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The Rangers trailed 4-3 when Marc Rzepczynski (2-3) walked pinch hitter Mike Napoli leading off the ninth. Rzepczynski threw wide of first for an error on Mitch Moreland's first career sacrifice bunt.Closer Jon Rauch came in, and the runners moved to second and third on Ian Kinsler's bunt.Napoli scored on Elvis Andrus' suicide-squeeze bunt to tie it at 4, and after Josh Hamilton was intentionally walked, pinch runner Craig Gentry crossed the plate on Young's drive over the head of right fielder Corey Patterson."We were on the top step. We expected it," Kinsler said of Young's seventh career game-winning hit.The AL West-leading Rangers thrive on the long ball, but they also work on bunting every day during batting practice."We practice it a lot. It shows our versatility," Moreland said. "We can swing our way out of it, or small ball, we can do that, too. It gives you confidence as a team to know that whatever situation you're put into as a team, you'll be able to prevail."Patterson, a ninth-inning defensive replacement, said the ball wasn't catchable."It was just hit over my head, right above my head, went off the wall, that's what happened," he said. "It is frustrating. We battled hard today. The last inning, it just didn't go our way."Darren Oliver (3-5) retired the final batter of the eighth for the victory as the Rangers won for the 14th time in 16 games.Toronto's J.P. Arencibia homered for the third time in two games to spark a three-run sixth.Rangers starter Matt Harrison had retired 12 of the previous 13 batters and took a 3-1 lead into the sixth before Arencibia led off with his 15th homer of the season, following up on Friday night's two-homer effort in a 12-2 loss to Texas.Yunel Escobar followed with a double and scored on Eric Thames' triple to tie it at 3. Jose Bautista's single drove in Thames to put the Jays in front.Toronto's Carlos Villanueva pitched into the sixth in his first career start against the Rangers. Villanueva, a converted reliever, allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 105-pitch outing.Harrison gave up four runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings and matched a career-high with eight strikeouts on another 100-degree night in north Texas.Hamilton, hitless in his previous 10 at-bats at the start of the night, went 3-for-4 for the AL West-leading Rangers.Adam Lind's RBI double in the first gave the Jays the lead. It was Lind's 29th RBI in 21 career games at Texas.The Rangers drew even at 1 in the third when Kinsler doubled and Hamilton hit a two-out triple.Chris Davis' RBI single in the fourth gave Texas a 2-1 lead, and Nelson Cruz added a run-scoring double in the fifth to give him nine RBIs in his past two games.The Blue Jays had won eight of their previous 11, but they've lost the first two of the three-game series against the Rangers to fall under .500 (50-51).
Rangers All-Star 3B Adrian Beltre went on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring sustained while running the bases in Friday night's game. Beltre will be out an estimated two to three weeks. Davis was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock, and got the start at 3B on Saturday. Davis and Young will split time at 3B. ... Before the game, the Jays designated LHP Jo-Jo Reyes for assignment and called up LHP Wilfredo Ledezma from Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Harrison struck out eight for the third time in his career, second this season.