Arlington Native Gets First, Multi-HR Game in Ballpark

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Vernon Wells is having quite a season-opening homecoming.

    Wells homered two more times, Jason Frasor pitched an uneventful ninth after blowing a save on opening day and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers 7-4 on Wednesday night.

    Wells' tiebreaking two-run homer in the fifth put Toronto ahead to stay, and he led off the ninth with another drive.

    The longest-tenured Blue Jays player in his 12th season, Wells grew up in Arlington and still lives in the area. This is the first time he has gotten to open a season at home, and he has three homers in the two games.

    "It's just trying not to miss your pitches when you get them, that's the biggest thing. So far so good," he said. "There are only 160 more games to go. I don't think I'll keep this pace up."

    Still, it's a tremendous start for Wells, who broke his wrist in 2008 and slipped to .260 last season with 15 homers, his lowest total since becoming a full-time big leaguer in 2002. Wells had surgery on the wrist after last season.

    Brian Tallet (1-0) allowed four runs, two earned, and four hits in 6 2-3 innings for the Blue Jays. He struck out six and walked three.

    Tallet, one of three left-handers in Toronto's rotation, bounced back nicely after allowing homers to Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz on consecutive pitches in the fourth, tying it at 3.

    "It's a moment of reckoning," Tallet said. "You fold and let things slip away or you buckle down."

    Rich Harden had an erratic debut for the Rangers, with eight strikeouts and plenty of misses too without getting a decision. The right-hander was done after giving up consecutive bases-loaded walks in the fourth.

    "I felt like I had good stuff, but they made me throw a lot of pitches and I lost my command that last inning and that's what hurt me," Harden said. "You end up getting tired, especially with guys on base."

    Wells, who scored four times, was hit by a pitch leading off the top of the fourth, then Harden walked a batter and struck out another before third baseman Michael Young's error loaded the bases. After a shallow fly ball, Harden walked the No. 9 batter and another to give Toronto a 3-1 lead.

    The Blue Jays led 6-3 midway through the seventh despite only two hits at that time -- the homer by Wells off Dustin Nippert (0-1) and a solo shot by Alex Gonzalez that was the only hit allowed by Harden.

    Near the end of spring training, hitting coach Dwayne Murphy pulled Wells aside to try an adjustment that got his hands and his weight back more in his stance.

    "If I get ready on time, everything else kind of works after that," Wells said. "I can tell if I'm late, I can tell if I'm on time, and just try to be on time as much as possible."

    So far, Wells is right on schedule.

    After Wells homered in the ninth, his dad, who regularly attends games at Rangers Ballpark, could be seen with a huge smile on his face.

    "He did a lot of cussing at the TV last year, he gets a lot more upset than I do when I struggle," Wells said. "I'm glad he has a smile on his face right now."

    Kevin Gregg followed Tallet with 1 1-3 perfect innings before Frasor, who gave up two runs in the ninth inning of Toronto's 5-4 loss on Monday, worked around a leadoff double in the ninth to pick up the save.

    Harden, who can make as much as $9 million with the free-agent deal he signed over the winter, walked five.

    After Harden walked the game's first batter, he struck out five of the next six until Gonzalez led off the third with a 409-foot homer to left-center.

    Nippert walked four in 2 2-3 innings, including Wells in the seventh when Toronto produced a run with two walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly by Edwin Encarnacion.

    "We walked 10 and hit two, you're not going to win many games doing that," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Vernon Wells shows up again. His bat speed looked like it was back so he must be back from the wrist injury."

    NOTES: It was Wells' 19th career multihomer game, his first in Arlington. ... Washington says "it'd be a miracle" for 2B Ian Kinsler to play in the season-opening, six-game homestand. Kinsler is on the disabled list for an ankle injury. He has hit, but isn't taking grounders yet. ... Toronto had two errors on one play in the seventh, right fielder Jose Bautista's bobble and shortstop Gonzalez's bad throw after the relay to put runners on second and third. That led to an unearned run when Julio Borbon grounded out.