Josh Hamilton fights off fatigue in return

SAN DIEGO -- After Josh Hamilton smacked a two-run triple in the third inning Tuesday night, he said he needed about three innings to catch his breath.

Fatigue was understandable for Hamilton, who missed four consecutive starts and lost about 10 pounds because of an intestinal virus that landed him in the hospital.

Hamilton returned to the Texas Rangers lineup in Tuesday’s 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. He went 2-for-5 with the triple, two RBIs and two runs scored, helping spur the Rangers (42-27) to their fifth victory in a row, their second-longest streak this season.

But Hamilton admitted he was tired from running the bases. After hitting the two-run triple in the third, he scored on Adrian Beltre’s shallow sacrifice fly.

“I was gassed, man,” he said. “I needed to do that, get the heart going. It’s amazing how quickly, you take a few days off you, not get out of shape, but your body is just not used to it anymore. But it comes back quick. It was good.

“I knew I was going to be tired. After I spent time on the bases, I was literally spent the rest of the game. It’s how I thought it was going to be.”

Hamilton was noticeably tired after Beltre doubled in the sixth inning and bent over with his hands on his knees while catching his breath at third base.

“The way he ran around there tonight, first time out there, he’s going to feel it a little bit, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle,” manager Ron Washington said.