Elvis Andrus was swinging for the fences in the eighth inning. The Texas shortstop, though, was thrilled with a soft single that capped one of the best nights of his career.
Andrus had a career-high five hits, Mitch Moreland homered and Texas roughed up Anibal Sanchez in the Rangers' 7-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.
Andrus scored three runs, had two RBIs and stole a pair of bases as he hit leadoff for the second straight game in place of ailing second baseman Ian Kinsler. Andrus was a home run shy of the cycle and finished off his 5-for-5 game with a single to right in the eighth.
"(Adrian) Beltre told me to take three hard swings," said Andrus, who hasn't homered since last Sept. 4. "Try to go yard. That's what I did, but the pitch was down. But I'm really happy with a base hit."
Moreland hit a solo shot off Sanchez leading off the third, his 10th home run of the season.
The Rangers (28-15) have the best record in baseball and are a game better than the New York Yankees for the best mark in the American League.
Kinsler missed his second straight game with bruised ribs, an injury that was aggravated after he was hit by a pitch from Justin Verlander on Thursday night.
Andrus, who batted leadoff for the Rangers in 2010 when they won the American League crown, will go back to his No. 2 spot in the order when Kinsler returns.
"The only thing I'm concerned about is Elvis leading the team and he's taking advantage of it," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Ian Kinsler has not been Wally Pipped."
Sanchez (4-4) gave up a season-high six runs in 2 2-3 innings, his shortest start in almost two years. The right-hander yielded nine hits, walked two and struck out two as his ERA jumped from 2.05 to 2.77.
This is the second time in three games a Tigers starter hasn't made it out of the third. Verlander gave up eight runs in 2 2-3 innings in Detroit's 10-4 loss to the Rangers on Thursday night.
"Sanchez had a bad night," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He had a tough time throwing strikes. He's been terrific and he'll get back on track."
Texas starter Justin Grimm (3-3) gave up two runs in 6 2-3 innings to snap a three-game losing streak. The rookie allowed seven hits and struck out two while throwing a career-high 105 pitches.
In his second career start last June, Grimm surrendered six runs and eight hits in one inning against the Tigers.
After allowing two runs in the third, Grimm retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced and left to a standing ovation. He credited a pep talk from Washington after the third inning for his success Saturday.
"Wash got me in the dugout and told me to trust my stuff," Grimm said. "He kind of tapped me in the face and caught me off guard. Just hearing that he had confidence in me meant a lot."
Andrus singled on Sanchez's first pitch of the game, then stole second and advanced to third on catcher Alex Avila's throwing error. The Texas shortstop scored on Avila's passed ball.
The Rangers extended their lead to 4-0 with three runs in the second. Andrus got the inning going with an RBI triple that tipped the end of Hunter's glove in right and he scored on Sanchez's throwing error.
Lance Berkman capped the second inning with an RBI single.
Sanchez threw 32 pitches in each of the first two innings. This was his shortest start since going 1 2-3 innings Aug. 10, 2011 as a member of the Marlins.
"It's a bad outing," Sanchez said. "I don't have an excuse. We have to give credit to the team, they swung well."
Moreland led off the third with a 415-foot blast into the Detroit bullpen in left. It was Moreland's seventh home run in May.
Andrus ended Sanchez's night with an RBI single that stretched Texas' lead to 6-2 with two outs in the third.
Berkman's RBI double scored Andrus, who led off the sixth with a double. "The whole thing about hitting leadoff is being on base to set the tone for the team and that's what I did," Andrus said.