Hamilton's Hits Drive Rangers to Sweep Astros

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Josh Hamilton at the plate.

    Sure, Josh Hamilton feels good. But he thinks his recent hitting streak has more to do with his mind than his body.

    "It's got a lot to do with mental," Hamilton said. "It really does, because I can get up there and swing all I want but if I don't have the right approach and right situations they won't do me any good."

    Hamilton matched a career high with five hits, including a tying single in the ninth inning and the go-ahead single in the 10th, to lift the Texas Rangers over the Houston Astros 5-4 Sunday for their season-high eighth straight victory.

    Julio Borbon added four hits and Texas rallied from a three-run deficit to sweep the three-game series from its state rival, extending Houston's losing streak to four.

    Borbon singled leading off the 10th against Casey Daigle (0-1) and advanced to second on Michael Young's groundout in front of the plate. After Ian Kinsler flied out, the Astros intentionally walked Vladimir Guerrero. Hamilton then knocked a line drive to right field off lefty Gustavo Chacin to put the Rangers ahead.

    "When I saw him warm up in the bullpen I told myself I was not going to give it away," Hamilton said. "Don't let the situation and the adrenaline lead to a quick out. I'm learning a lot about the game and situations and how to slow myself down and how to approach it better."

    Chris Ray (2-0) allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth and Neftali Feliz pitched a perfect 10th for his 19th save in 21 chances.

    Hamilton's RBI single off closer Matt Lindstrom tied it at 4 in the ninth. Lindstrom got out of a bases-loaded jam when first baseman Lance Berkman caught pinch-hitter Craig Gentry's foul popup near the Houston dugout.

    Andres Blanco singled in the sixth before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt and scoring on a double by Borbon that made it 4-3.

    Hamilton extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the third. He advanced to second on that play when Carlos Lee mishandled the ball in left field for an error. Justin Smoak's single cut Houston's lead to 4-2.

    Smoak, a rookie, finished with two homers and eight RBIs in the series.

    If the Astros would have walked Hamilton in the 10th, it would have brought up Smoak. Rangers manager Ron Washington understood the thinking of counterpart Brad Mills.

    "(Smoak) has been tearing them up the whole series so you had to pick your poison," Washington said. "Mills liked the lefty on Hamilton. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. I'm just glad it worked for us."

    Mills defended the move.

    "We thought about who we were going to get beat with and with Chacin and the command of his pitches, we thought that would be a better setup for us," he said. "It didn't work."

    Pedro Feliz singled in the second for the Astros. Tommy Manzella then singled to right field, where Guerrero couldn't handle the ball and it rolled into the corner. Feliz scored and Manzella went to third on the error, giving Houston a 3-1 lead.

    The Astros took advantage of another Texas miscue later in the inning when Manzella scored after a pitch glanced off catcher Max Ramirez's mitt for a passed ball.

    Mills tinkered with his batting order, moving Berkman from No. 3 to the No. 2 spot in the lineup for the first time since 2004. Berkman got things going in the first inning with an RBI double. The play included an awkward moment when he passed second base, realized he needed to go back, fell to his hands and knees and crawled back to the bag.

    A single by Lee, who celebrated his 34th birthday, scored Berkman later in the inning to make it 2-0.

    Smoak doubled in the second inning and scored on a double by Ramirez to get Texas within 2-1.

    Astros starter Felipe Paulino allowed 10 hits and three runs in six innings. Rangers starter C.J. Wilson left after allowing six hits and four runs in seven innings.

    Game Notes:

    • Astros C Humberto Quintero was injured in the fourth when he was hit in the head with a bat on Blanco's follow through. He received seven stitches on the right side of his head and was taken to the hospital for X-rays. He said he was OK after the game. He was replaced by Kevin Cash.
    • RHP Dustin Nippert is likely to start for Texas on Wednesday against Pittsburgh.
    • Astros RHP Bud Norris, on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, will make one more rehabilitation start at Triple-A Round Rock.
    • The Astros will purchase the contracts of C Jason Castro and OF Jason Bourgeois and recall 3B Chris Johnson from Triple-A Round Rock. The team will designate Cash, Daigle and OF Cory Sullivan for assignment. The moves will be effective on Tuesday. Mills said he wants to see what the young players can do and that Castro will get the "lion's share" of playing time at catcher and Johnson will play a lot at third.