|Texas (51-38) «||6||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||7||12||0|
BOSTON -- The Texas Rangers couldn't wait for the All-Star break.
And then they couldn't wait for it to end.
Josh Hamilton took over the major league batting lead with three doubles, helping the Rangers get off to a quick start in the second half with a six-run first inning on their way to a 7-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday.
"Before the break, I felt like we needed a break. Some of the guys were tired," Hamilton said. "Everybody got some rest and we came out stronger."
Bengie Molina homered as Texas batted around in first inning against Tim Wakefield. Nelson Cruz and Vladimir Guerrero had three hits apiece for the Rangers, who lost their last four games heading into the break -- against the lowly Baltimore Orioles -- to open July with a 3-8 record.
"I think the break came at the right time," said Rangers manager Ron Washington, whose team had gone 21-6 in June. "We were tired. When you play hard for as long as we did, it takes something out of you. We needed the days off, and it couldn't have come at a better time."
Tommy Hunter (6-0) held Boston to five hits before leaving with a 7-2 lead with two outs in the seventh. He walked two, struck out one and hit a batter while allowing solo homers to Bill Hall and J.D. Drew.
Hamilton raised his batting average to .351 before being replaced by a pinch runner in the seventh inning because of soreness in his calf behind his right knee.
"It was just tight," he said, adding that there was no need for an X-ray or MRI. "I could have stayed in and kept playing. I thought it might be a good time for a break."
Boston has lost six of its last eight games. Tim Wakefield (3-8) had his shortest outing since September, 2008, allowing six earned runs on eight hits and striking out two before leaving three batters into the third inning.
"I'm as dumbfounded as anybody else," Wakefield said. "I felt like I had some of the best stuff I had all year coming out of the bullpen, but I just didn't have it tonight."
The Red Sox had only five regular starters in the lineup because of injuries to Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez and Jacoby Ellsbury. Felix Doubront has been called up from the minors to pitch on Friday because of injuries to Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett.
The Rangers entered the game with a 4½ game lead in the AL West despite being swept by Baltimore in the last four games before the All-Star break. That included Hunter's worst start of the season, in which he took a 4-1 lead into the seventh but didn't get an out in the inning; the Rangers blew the lead and lost 6-4, and Hunter got a no-decision.
"I left them in a bad situation in my last outing," he said.
They didn't wait long to turn things around.
After Wakefield struck out Elvis Andrus to lead off the game, he gave up six straight hits. Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Guerrero all singled, Hamilton doubled and Cruz singled to make it 4-0. Molina hit a two-run homer before Wakefield got the bottom two in the order to end the inning.
After a 1-2-3 second inning, the Rangers put three straight batters on -- one on an Hall's error at third base -- to make it 7-0 and chase Wakefield.
"They strung together a bunch of hits," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He came out in the third and it looked like it was going to be another tough inning so I had to go get him."
Robert Manuel inherited runners at second and third and nobody out and pitched out of the jam to avoid further damage.
|Josh Hamilton gets three doubles to improve his average to .351. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Elvis Andrus, SS||3||0||0||0||2||1||0||.277|
|Michael Young, 3B||4||1||1||0||1||0||1||.301|
|Ian Kinsler, 2B||5||1||1||0||0||0||2||.307|
|Vladimir Guerrero, DH||5||2||3||1||0||0||2||.323|
|Josh Hamilton, LF||4||1||3||1||0||0||0||.351|
|David Murphy, PR-LF||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.269|
|Nelson Cruz, RF||5||1||3||3||0||0||2||.307|
|Bengie Molina, C||4||1||1||2||0||0||4||.249|
|Chris Davis, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||3||.203|
|Julio Borbon, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||4||.275|
|2B - Josh Hamilton 3 (28, Wakefield, Manuel, Atchison), Nelson Cruz (13, Wakefield)|
|HR - Bengie Molina (4, Wakefield)|
|RBI - Vladimir Guerrero (76), Josh Hamilton (65), Nelson Cruz 3 (44), Bengie Molina 2 (19)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Tommy Hunter (W,6-0)||6.2||5||2||2||2||1||2||2.39|
|HBP - Cameron (by Tommy Hunter)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Tommy Hunter 108-67, Darren Oliver 19-12, Alexi Ogando 25-14|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tommy Hunter 7-12|
|Batters Faced - Tommy Hunter 28, Darren Oliver 4, Alexi Ogando 5|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Marco Scutaro, SS||5||0||0||0||0||1||3||.279|
|Eric Patterson, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.211|
|David Ortiz, DH||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.259|
|Kevin Youkilis, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||.289|
|J.D. Drew, RF||4||1||2||1||0||0||0||.278|
|Daniel Nava, LF||2||0||1||0||2||0||1||.305|
|Mike Cameron, CF||3||0||1||0||0||1||2||.285|
|Bill Hall, 3B||4||1||2||1||0||0||4||.246|
|Kevin Cash, C||2||0||0||0||1||0||2||.179|
|a- Ryan Shealy, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.000|
|a-struck out for Cash in the 9th|
|HR - J.D. Drew (11, Hunter), Bill Hall (8, Hunter)|
|RBI - J.D. Drew (43), Bill Hall (25)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Hall-Youkilis|
|E - Bill Hall (6, Misplayed grounder)|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Tim Wakefield (L,3-8)||2||8||7||6||0||2||1||5.65|
|Pitches-Strikes - Tim Wakefield 34-28, Robert Manuel 58-33, Dustin Richardson 24-9, Scott Atchison 35-23, Ramon Ramirez 13-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tim Wakefield 3-2, Robert Manuel 1-5, Scott Atchison 3-4, Ramon Ramirez 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Tim Wakefield 15, Robert Manuel 10, Dustin Richardson 4, Scott Atchison 9, Ramon Ramirez 4|
|Attendance - 38062|
|Game Time - 3:11|
|Temperature - 73|
|Umpires - Home - Bruce Dreckman, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Bill Hohn, Third Base - Gary Darling|