Wed, May 25, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Hamilton returns to boost the Rangers

STOPPING THE ROT:Josh Hamilton homered in his first at-bat since coming off the disabled list. Nelson Cruz also returned to action and contributed a two-run homer

AFP, ARLINGTON, TEXAS

AMERICAN LEAGUE

The American League’s Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton gave the Texas Rangers the boost they were hoping for on Monday when he homered in his first at-bat on his return from the disabled list.

Hamilton, serving as the designated hitter and batting with two outs in the first inning, took a called first strike from Chicago White Sox starting pitcher John Danks and then jumped on a 145kph fastball.

Hamilton belted it to right field, just clearing the wall to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead and put them on the road to a 4-0 victory.

Hamilton was activated prior to the contest. He had been sidelined since April 12 with a fractured bone below his right shoulder, suffered in a head-first slide into home plate.

Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz also returned to action on Monday and he, too, contributed a homer.

Hamilton received a standing ovation when he was introduced.

Cruz hit sixth and played left field. He also got a warm welcome from the crowd as he led off the second inning with a ground ball to shortstop.

He hit a two-run homer in the sixth.

Although the Rangers lead the American League West, they had lost three of their prior four games — scoring just five runs in that stretch.

“Physically, I feel good. Just ready to roll,” Hamilton said, adding that his minor league rehabilitation assignment had gone well. “My timing feels good, cage work has been good, batting practice has been good and the games down there.”

Cruz hadn’t played for the Rangers since May 3 when he departed a game in Seattle early with a right quadriceps strain.

He admitted it had been tough to watch the team struggle offensively.

“It’s amazing how frustrating it can get, watch the games and know maybe you can do something about it,” he said.

The crowd included former US president George W. Bush. Bush gave A.J. Pierzynski a surprise when the White Sox catcher reached into the stands after a foul ball in the sixth and came face-to-face with the former president.

INDIANS 3, RED SOX 2

REUTERS, CLEVELAND, OHIO

Asdrubal Cabrera stayed red-hot with three hits, including the game-winning RBI in the eighth inning, to give the Cleveland Indians a narrow victory over the Boston Red Sox on Monday and their fourth successive win.

The Major League-leading Indians (30-15) trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, but rallied when Michael Brantley hit an RBI single to tie the score at 2-2, before Cabrera followed with an RBI double.

“This feels awesome,” Cabrera told reporters. “[Brantley] had a great at-bat in front of me. I was just looking to put the ball in play.”

Cabrera, who went five-for-five with five RBIs in Sunday’s win against the Cincinnati Reds also had a solo home run in the fourth to tie the game 1-1.

Cleveland starter Justin Masterson tossed 7-2/3 innings and allowed a run in the third and a solo homer to Carl Crawford in the fifth inning of his no-decision.

Reliever Joe Smith was credited with the win after recording the final out of the eighth, while Chris Perez pitched the ninth where he had Boston runners on first and third before getting a game-ending double-play for his 13th save of the season.

Boston (25-22) remained half a game out of first place in the American League East, while the surprising Indians maintained their seven-game lead in the Central.

The start of the game was delayed by about an hour because of rain, creating slippery conditions which caused Boston’s Dustin Pedroia to slip and injure his left foot while running the bases in the eighth. He was cleared of any serious injury after the game.

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