Rangers Finish 14-4 in Interleague Play

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Josh Hamilton at the plate.

    Texas Rangers starter Tommy Hunter was sitting on the bench when he heard Josh Hamilton's home run. That's right, heard it.

    "I wasn't even watching, and I was like, 'Yes!'," Hunter said. "It gives you little tingles in your stomach."

    Hamilton's 468-foot drive several rows into the upper deck in right-center field, way above the Rangers bullpen, was the second-longest ever at Rangers Ballpark and put AL West-leading Texas ahead to stay in a 10-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday night.

    "It was so loud," said Nelson Cruz, who was on the on-deck circle for Hamilton's two-run blast in the second off Roy Oswalt (5-10).

    The homer extended Hamilton's hitting streak to 21 games and was his 47th hit in June, matching the team record for hits in a month shared by Mickey Rivers (August 1980) and Frank Catalanotto (August 2001). Hamilton is batting .477 (41 of 86) during his hitting streak and has raised his season average to .346, tied for second in the majors.

    According to the Rangers, the only longer homer at home was a 480-foot drive by Jose Canseco playing for Texas in 1994, the first year of Rangers Ballpark.

    "You just feel those. I got all of it," said Hamilton, who hit a 460-foot blast last season. "I see it go up, I feel that it's going out, and I put my head down and run. I've never been one to watch where they land. I let everybody tell me when I get back to the dugout."

    Michael Young also homered for Texas and Matt Treanor had a two-run, two-out single in the fifth to make it 7-1. Treanor's hit came on Oswalt's 100th and last pitch of the game after the right-hander had walked the bases loaded.

    The Rangers (46-29) are 20-5 in June and matched a franchise record by winning their eighth consecutive series, something they had only done in 1977.

    Texas has a day off Monday before opening a three-game series on the road against the Los Angeles Angels, who trail the Rangers by 4½ games in the AL West.

    Hunter (4-0) allowed one run and five hits over six innings. Hamilton has 18 homers this season, with one in each of Hunter's five starts.

    Oswalt, whose 142 career victories are only two shy of Joe Niekro's record with the Astros, earlier this year requested a trade from the struggling team for which he has played all 10 of his major league seasons and went to the World Series in 2005.

    Texas president and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan has said his team is interested in the 32-year-old Oswalt, though any such deal is complicated by the Rangers' unsettled bankruptcy proceedings that have stalled the sale of the team. Not to mention Oswalt's salary ($15 million this season, $16 million in 2011).

    Oswalt, who said Friday a trade to the Rangers would be OK with him, had his worst outing of the season. He gave up eight runs (seven earned) and seven hits (five for extra bases) with four walks, three strikeouts and two wild pitches.

    "I was missing spots, throwing it over the middle of the plate," Oswalt said. "The ball was running on me a little bit. ... It was location more than anything. "

    The pitch to Hamilton was supposed to be inside. It was over the plate instead.

    "I've seen some long home runs. That one just left in a hurry," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "They hit him pretty good. He doesn't struggle like this."

    Before Sunday night, Oswalt was 4-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his five road starts. Overall, Houston has scored fewer than three runs a game for him and three of his losses have been in matchups against two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum.

    Hamilton also had a couple of defensive highlights.

    When the game was still scoreless in the top of the second, Hamilton made a spectacular inning-ending catch in left field. He reached out to grab Chris Johnson's flyball, lunging to make the catch and then holding on after rolling onto the ground.

    "I thought it would be in the gap," Johnson said.

    Hamilton made a sliding catch on Carlos Lee's sinking liner in the fourth, then an inning later had an unconventional outfield assist.

    When Geoff Blum raced home on Michael Bourn's single to left in the fifth, Hamilton's on-target throw hit Blum in the back and ricocheted away from the plate. Hunter was backing up and threw out Jason Castro sliding into third.

    "He's playing both sides of the baseball," manager Ron Washington said of Hamilton. "If the ball doesn't hit Blum, he's dead."

    Notes: Texas finished 14-4 in interleague games. Houston was 3-12. ... The Rangers honored TCU for its College World Series appearance during a pregame ceremony. Included in the group was freshman LHP Matt Purke, who won two games in Omaha. Purke was the 14th overall pick by the Rangers in 2009, but didn't sign.