Patient offense scores with walks, singles

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Even in a lineup stacked with power hitters, the Texas Rangers are proving they can produce runs without the long ball. When they were crushing opponents the first six weeks of the season, they were doing it with an offense that was extremely versatile. If they needed to steal a base and hit a ground ball, they would. If they needed to blast a run-scoring double, they'd do that. Sometimes the home runs carried them. That versatility resulted in a gaggle of runs on a consistent basis.

And then it dissipated for five weeks or so. But in this homestand, the do-it-all offense is making a reappearance. In Thursday's marathon 7-6 win -- it took 3 hours and 54 minutes to play nine innings -- the Rangers had just two extra-base hits. And they were both doubles. They added six walks, 12 singles and tied a season-high with four stolen bases. Texas kept putting pressure on the Oakland pitchers and engineered a comeback from an early deficit without fireworks shooting out from the scoreboard or any music from The Natural playing.

"I think we can generate runs in a lot of different ways," leadoff batter Ian Kinsler said. "Lately, we've been hitting the ball in the gap and driving the ball out of the ballpark. Tonight, we didn't have that. We were able to generate runs in another way and taking the extra base and doing what we needed to do."

Kinsler was the catalyst. He had his first four-hit effort of the season and his first since Aug. 15, 2011. He doubled to start the first and aggressively tagged up on a ball in foul territory down the right-field line. He scored when Josh Hamilton hit a ground ball to the right side. Kinsler had three more singles and sole two bases. He scored three runs, giving him 59 on the season, the most in the American League.

The rest of the Rangers followed Kinsler's lead. And they put the hits and walks together for a four-run fifth. Leonys Martin led off with a walk and stole second. Kinsler and Andrus had infield singles, which scored a run. After Hamilton walked, Adrian Beltre walked on four pitches to drive in a run. The only ball hit out of the infield in the inning was David Murphy's single through the hole between first and second that scored two more runs.

"Some people call it small ball, I call it winning baseball," manager Ron Washington said. "It's a part of the game and that's just doing what the game asks you to do. We're starting to get back to that and we're starting to get free on the basepaths and running and doing some things. It's winning baseball. That's what we're doing."

Hamilton had one of his most patient games of the season. The slugger was content to take walks when they were given and find a way to drive in a couple of runs even when the A's weren't giving him much of anything to hit. He walked to load the bases in the fifth and let Adrian Beltre have a shot. The same thing happened in the sixth and Beltre delivered a sacrifice fly to score the eventual winning run. And he hit a ball to the right side to have a run-scoring, productive out in the first.

"He waited and got a pitch that he could put into play and that's all it took to get the run in," Washington said. "He took the walks. When he got some pitches to swing at, he let it go. But it took the walk. That's a good thing. Every night, the other team is just not going to let Hamilton beat them up. So he's got to accept what they give him and wait in the batter's box until they make a mistake and make them pay for it."

The Rangers' offense has three straight games of at least seven runs and they're scoring those runs in a variety of ways. Some hitters that were dealing with slumps --- like Kinsler, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and Hamilton -- are showing signs of getting things together again. That's especially true of Kinsler, who has a four-game hitting streak and is batting .474 in that span.

"I was pleased at how we got the runs tonight and I think it's a good sign for us," hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh said. "We can score runs in a lot of ways and we weren't doing that. We were getting guys in scoring position and couldn't score them. Now we're getting the results. We just have to stay consistent with it."