Josh Bell hit a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning, and also had a triple and double while scoring Washington’s only other run in his return home, as the Nationals won 2-1 on Friday night in their first interleague game at Texas in 17 years.
Bell, the big first baseman who is from nearby Irving, scored the game’s first run in the sixth. He had a one-out double before Luis Garcia’s ground-rule double that bounced into the Rangers’ bullpen in right-center field.
Juan Soto led off the Nationals eighth with a double off just-in reliever Dennis Santana (3-3) before Bell followed with his hit that was the difference.
The only other time the Nationals had played at Texas was in June 2005, when Bell was a couple of months shy of his 13th birthday.
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That is the longest gap any opponent has gone between games at the Rangers, according to Elias Sports Bureau. But there have been nine longer such spans of teams visiting others since interleague play began in 1997.
Adolis Garcia homered and had his sixth outfield assist of the season for the Rangers, who had won their previous six interleague games.
Bell got started with a two-out triple in the first and is 11 for 27 (.407) in his last eight games, raising his season average 12 points to .302.
Texas Rangers - World Series Champions
Carl Edwards (1-1) worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the victory. Tanner Rainey worked around two base runners in the ninth for his ninth save in 12 chances.
The game was tied at 1 after Garcia led off the sixth with his 14th homer, a 423-foot drive into the seats in left-center field.
Garcia got his outfield assist with a no-hop throw from right-center to catcher Jonah Heim that easily beat Nelson Cruz to the plate by several feet in the fourth.
Cruz, a week before his 42nd birthday, had led off that inning with a double in his return to Texas, where he was twice an All-Star and was the 2011 AL Championship Series MVP while playing there from 2006-13.
Rangers right-hander Dane Dunning, who has gone without a win in his last 10 starts since the end of April, struck out four, walked one and allowed a run over six innings. Washington righty Paolo Espino, in his third time through the starting rotation after 20 relief appearances, also allowed one run in his 5 1/3 innings.
Nationals: GM Mike Rizzo told MLB.com that there’s no rush to put a plan together for RHP Stephen Strasburg. “He can’t do anything until he’s pain free and feeling good. He’s not there yet,” Rizzo said. Strasburg has pitched only once since surgery last summer for thoracic outlet syndrome. The 2019 World Series MVP was diagnosed with a stress reaction of the ribs after he felt discomfort in a bullpen session following his start at Miami on June 9, when he allowed seven runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Nats right-hander Josiah Gray (6-4, 3.95 ERA) has allowed only one earned run over 17 innings in his three June starts. Texas is going with a bullpen day, though Taylor Hearn (4-5, 6.25) could be part of that after being pulled from his rotation spot. The lefty allowed 17 runs in 18 2/3 innings in his four June starts.