Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hamilton, Cruz Batter Boston Bullpen; Dickey 1-Hits Luckless Phillies

Players of the Day for Friday, August 13, 2010 American League The Texas Rangers probably don't need any help in order to win the AL West division, but they'll take it when offered, like they did Friday night, from the imploding Boston pitching staff and bullpen. The Red Sox traveled to Arlington a night after blowing a 9th-inning, 5-2 lead in a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays, evidence that Red Sox arms are tiring in the heat of the summer, but they got no rest in Texas, using eight pitchers in a 10-9, 11-inning loss to the Rangers. Boston scored seven times in the top of the 4th to take an early 8-2 lead, but starter Josh Becket, who hasn't been his usual self all season (3-2, 6.51 ERA), lasted only five innings, allowing single runs in the 1st and 2nd, two in the 4th and two more in the 5th as the Rangers began their rally. Boston scored another run in the top of the 7th, but Texas countered with two more in the bottom of the frame and eventually tied the game when Vlaimir Guerrero singled home Josh Hamilton (left), who crossed the plate for the 4th time in the 8th. Hamilton went 4-for-5 with a solo home run, two singles and a double, raising his outrageous league-leading batting average to .362. There was no further scoring by either team until the bottom of the 11th, when Nelson Cruz (right) took the first offering from Tim Wakefield into the seats in left field for a walk-off, game-winning home run, his 16th of the year. Cruz had been an earlier contributor as well, finishing the night 3-for-6 with two RBI and two runs. The Rangers banged out 17 hits against the worn-out Boston staff, who face Texas twice more this weekend before getting a day off. Boston didn't lose any ground to the Yankees or Rays, both losers Friday. They trail New York by six games and are four behind the second-place Rays. Texas sports an 8 1/2 game lead over the Angels, with the A's another 1/2 game back in the AL West. National League Playing in New York at Citi field simply does not agree with Phillies' hitters. Pitcher Cole Hamels would rather not see the Mets again soon either. Hamels, who had the only hit off Mets' starter R.A. Dickey, lost his second straight 1-0 decision to the Mets. Last Saturday, he struck out 11 and allowed just one run over seven innings but was victimized by Johan Santana. On Friday, Dickey allowed only a 3rd inning walk to Wilson Valdez and Hamels' 6th inning single as the Mats blanked the Phillies for the 4th straight time at Citi Field. Back in May they shut them out three straight, outscoring them 16-0. Dickey, a knuckleballer, had the Phillies completely off-balance, striking out seven and getting eight groundouts and eight more outs on fly balls, mostly pop-ups and weak fliers. The Mets scored their only run on back-to-back doubles by David Wright and Carlos Beltran in the 6th inning and regained third place in the NL East, nine games behind front-running Atlanta. The Phillies dropped three games off the pace as the Braves topped the Dodgers, 1-0 in Atlanta. Dickey (8-5, 2.43) recorded his first shutout and complete game since 2003, when he was a starter for the Texas Rangers.

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