Andrus leads the way with five hits

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers have a leadoff hitter. Ian Kinsler.

They also have a pretty good backup. Elvis Andrus.

Subbing in the leadoff spot with Kinsler nursing bruised ribs, Andrus had a breakout night Saturday, going 5-for-5 and coming within a home run of hitting for the cycle.

Andrus scored three runs and stole two bases as the aggressive Rangers blitzed red-hot Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers 7-2 on Saturday night.

Andrus used the entire ballpark to get his five hits, his career high.

"He's a tremendous hitter when he does that," manager Ron Washington said of Andrus' using the big part of Rangers Ballpark. "We needed that."

Andrus opened the bottom of the first with a single to left. He stole second and went to third on an error by Tigers catcher Alex Avila. He scored on a passed ball.

Andrus had a triple to right-center field in the second inning that scored Leonys Martin and ignited a three-run rally for a 4-0 lead.

Andrus had another RBI single to center field in the bottom of the third for a 6-0 lead. He led the way with three hits in the first three innings.

"When you have a night like that, you love it," Andrus said. "In 2010, I was the leadoff hitter for the whole year. It's not a spot that I don't like to hit in. I feel comfortable in that situation, hitting leadoff or hitting second. The whole thing about being leadoff is you see a lot of pitches and set the tone for the team. That's what I'm trying to do now."

Andrus had a double in the sixth and scored for a 7-2 lead, moving him within a home run of the cycle. At third baseman Adrian Beltre's urging -- he hit for the cycle in August -- Andrus went to the plate in the eighth inning trying for a home run.

"That's what Beltre told me," Andrus said. "You better have three hard swings."

Andrus, who has 15 career home runs, ripped a single to right.

"I hit the ball down," Andrus said.

As good as he looked Saturday in the leadoff spot, he'll be back hitting in the No. 2 spot in the lineup when Kinsler returns, maybe as soon as Sunday afternoon against Detroit.

"No," Washington said after the game. "Ian Kinsler has not been Wally Pipp-ed."