ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers have thrived since Ian Kinsler returned to the lineup.
Kinsler hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning to lift the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
With the score tied at 2, Royals starter Gil Meche (0-4) walked Michael Young with one out in the eighth. Josh Hamilton followed with an infield single, and Young advanced to third on Vladimir Guerrero's flyout.
Kinsler, who went 2 for 3 and helped turn two double plays, fell behind 0-2, then evened the count at 2-2. He fouled off two pitches before lining a 2-2 slider to right that scored Young.
"[Meche] caught a little too much of the plate and I was able to flip it in," Kinsler said. "It came down to execution, who was going to execute the best. I won the battle. The first two pitches [fastballs] I wasn't expecting that. He put me in a defensive mode. I was able to foul a few off and was able to flip that last pitch to right field."
Texas is 7-2 with Kinsler starting after he missed the first 21 games because of a high ankle sprain.
"I'm happy for Kinsler," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He'd been battling all night. He battled right there. We needed it and he took it to the opposite field."
Chris Ray (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Neftali Feliz worked the ninth for his eighth save in nine chances.
Texas has won the first three games of the four-game series and nine of 12 overall.
Meche, who began the night 0-3 with a 9.89 ERA in his first five starts, had a 128-pitch outing. He allowed three runs and six hits, struck out three and walked seven -- three of which scored.
"Seven walks is not good, especially against a team like that," Meche said. "To be able to throw that many pitches and have good stuff at the end ... I just couldn't make up for the walks."
David DeJesus homered for the Royals, who've lost four straight and six of seven.
"A play here, a play there, a base hit here, a base hit there," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "It's frustrating."
Rangers starter Rich Harden threw 95 pitches in five innings, leaving with the score tied at 2. Harden allowed two runs and five hits, struck out three and walked two.
Texas took a 2-0 lead on Hamilton's RBI groundout in the first and Elvis Andrus' two-out run-scoring single in the second.
The Rangers stole four bases in the first two innings, two by Andrus.
Kansas City tied it at 2 on Mitch Maier's RBI single in the fourth and DeJesus' solo homer in the fifth.
Rangers OF Nelson Cruz did some running before the game and is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week. Cruz, who leads the Rangers with seven homers despite missing 11 games, is on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring. ... Before the game, Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers pop group took some swings in the batting cage and made a few running catches shagging fly balls. The Jonas Brothers live in North Texas. ... The Rangers plan on placing LHP Matt Harrison on the 15-day DL next week due to left biceps tendinitis, Washington said. Washington said the team will recall LHP Derek Holland from Triple-A Oklahoma City. ... Hillman had his college uniform No. 1 retired by Texas-Arlington prior to Saturday's game against Stephen F. Austin. Hillman grew up in Arlington and was an All-Southland Conference shortstop at UTA for three seasons, batting .342 in 1982.