ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton seemed disappointed about his towering 460-foot home run.
“I hit toward the label a little bit, because it vibrated my hands,” Hamilton said. “It was one of the easiest swings I’ve had in a while.”
While Hamilton wants to hit a 500-foot homer in a game — like his awe-inspring display at the Home Run Derby last summer — his two-run shot proved to be the difference as AL West-leading Texas held on for its fifth win in a row, 10-8 over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.
“We needed it bad,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
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Hamilton, already with an RBI triple and a defensive play that prevented a run, homered for the third time in four games since coming off the disabled list. It was the third-longest homer at Rangers Ballpark, making it 10-3 before the Angels scored five times in the ninth.
Ian Kinsler homered twice and Andruw Jones also went deep for the Rangers (21-14), who moved seven games over .500 for the first time since June 2005, two seasons before Washington became their manager. Only twice before have they won more times through 35 games — 1996 and 1998, their first two division-winning seasons.
Kinsler and Jones hit two-run homers in a span of four pitches in the third off Joe Saunders (5-2), who has always been great on the road — everywhere except in Texas.
“It kind of fires me up that I haven’t had success (in Texas). I tried to bring everything I had tonight and obviously I didn’t have much to bring to the table stuff-wise,” Saunders said. “I felt I was a little bit off in every aspect.”
Saunders, coming off his first career shutout in a 1-0 victory at home Saturday over Kansas City and Zach Greinke, dropped to 0-4 with a 10.29 ERA in four starts at Rangers Ballpark. The left-hander is 20-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 28 starts as a visitor to other ballparks.
Kevin Millwood (4-3) gave up two runs while scattering nine hits and walking two over six innings. It was the first time in his eight starts this season the right-hander didn’t go at least seven innings. His only 1-2-3 inning was the first, when he threw 12 pitches.
“Personally, I thought it was OK. I definitely could have pitched better, should have gone deeper,” Millwood said. “For the team, it’s a nice win. ... I’m just glad we scored 10 runs.”