Smoak homered and had a career-high three hits, Josh Hamilton had a homer and two doubles, and the Rangers rallied from an early four-run deficit for a 9-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.
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Smoak, the 11th overall pick in the 2008 draft and the Rangers' top hitting prospect, was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on April 23. He was batting .167 earlier this week until an 8 for 17 streak pushed his average to a more respectable .208."One of the things is I've tried to stay relaxed," Smoak said. "That's hard to do at this level. You have to let it happen, you can't make it happen."Smoak's two-run homer in the second off rookie starter Wade Davis (5-5) pulled the Rangers within 4-2."That got us back in the game," Texas' Michael Young said. "That was definitely a big blow for us. Smoak's home run definitely took a little pressure off us."Smoak singled in his next two at-bats, and walked in his final plate appearance.As a reward, he got a shaving-cream pie in the face from teammates while he did an on-field TV interview.Vladimir Guerrero added a three-run double in his return to the lineup after missing two games because of a swollen left eye.Julio Borbon also had three of Texas' 13 hits against a pitching staff that started the night with a 3.17 ERA, best in the AL.Ben Zobrist had three hits and Evan Longoria homered for the Rays, who lost for only the seventh time in 28 road games.Rangers starter C.J. Wilson (4-3) recovered from a four-run second to pick up the win, allowing five runs and six hits in five-plus innings. Wilson struck out five but walked four.Neftali Feliz got three outs for his 15th save in 17 chances despite hitting two batters.Wilson pitched a perfect first with two strikeouts, but the Rays loaded the bases with nobody out in the second.Carlos Pena was credited with an RBI when Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler booted Pena's ground ball for an error. Sean Rodriguez's RBI ground-out made it 2-0, and Carl Crawford's single drove in two more.Hamilton's blast on the first pitch of the fourth, Elvis Andrus' RBI single, and Young's two-run single gave Texas a 6-4 lead and chased Davis.Guerrero followed with his three-run double off Andy Sonnanstine to make it 9-4.Guerrero was struck in the eye on Wednesday when he hit a practice pitch that caromed off a post in the batting cage before a game against the Chicago White Sox.Most of the swelling subsided by Friday, although the eye was still badly bruised, and Guerrero pronounced himself ready to play.Davis gave up eight runs, matching a career high, and a career-high nine hits over 3 1/3 innings."Wade had a tough night," manager Joe Maddon said. "Fastball command issues got him. Overall he was just missing his spots."Former Ranger Hank Blalock's RBI ground-out as a pinch hitter in the sixth against reliever Matt Harrison pulled the Rays to 9-5, but Harrison struck out Crawford with the bases loaded to end the inning.The deficit was too much for the Rays to overcome."Generally when we score six runs, we win with the way we pitch and play defense," Maddon said.Rangers manager Ron Washington was ejected in the eighth by second base umpire Chris Guccione for arguing a call on a steal attempt by Borbon.
Blalock played right field in the sixth, his first pro appearance as an outfielder. ... Davis also allowed eight runs against Boston last September. ... The Rangers' seven-run fourth was their biggest inning of the season. ... Texas opened a seven-game homestand after a 3-5 trip. ... Rangers RHP Tommy Hunter is set to be recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start for Texas on Saturday. Hunter began the season on the 15-day DL with a left oblique strain sustained in spring training, and was 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA in six appearances for Oklahoma City. Washington said Hunter is capable of throwing 100 pitches even though forecasts call for triple-digit heat on Saturday.