Offense busts loose to help reduce magic number

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers hadn't scored more than three runs in six of the past seven games and weren't getting the hits they needed with runners in scoring position.

But after going 0-for-7 on Wednesday and watching the AL West lead drop to three games, the offense decided enough was enough.

Ian Kinsler homered in the first inning Thursday, his seventh leadoff homer of the season. That's a good omen for the Rangers, who are now 23-4 when Kinsler leads off the first with a homer. But it didn't stop there. Michael Young got a hit in the club's first situation with runners in scoring position, driving in two runs to put Texas up 3-0. Two batters later, Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer -- yep, with another runner in scoring position -- to put the Rangers ahead by five.

They ended up with a 9-7 victory that reduced the magic number to three. The Oakland A's fought back Thursday but were never able to catch up.

"Our offense was huge today," starter Matt Harrison said. "They got me those runs early and they kept scoring."

Texas ended up 6-for-11 with runners in scoring position and scored more than six runs for the first time since a 9-3 win over Seattle on Sept. 14. It was the kind of breakout performance the Rangers haven't been able to put up with regularity the past few weeks.

"One thing we have been doing is getting guys out there, we just haven't gotten them in," Young said. "We don't worry about that. We know that if we get them out there, we can get them in. Today we did that."

The five-run first inning was just the second time since Aug. 24 that the Rangers had scored at least five runs in one inning. The 14 hits Thursday were the most since Sept. 2, and they had at least one hit in each of the first six innings. It was a good sign for the offense, which is trying to find some rhythm just in time for the playoffs.