Rios enjoys cycle and a good night

ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Alex Rios sent a fastball from Houston pitcher David Martinez sailing into right-center field, he knew exactly what he had to do.

Fly around the bases for a triple.

The Rangers' right fielder, who has long strides and runs like a deer, glided around the bases for that triple, making him the seventh Rangers player to hit for the cycle. Rios got it done in six innings and helped the Rangers cruise to a 12-0 victory over Houston, moving Texas within a game of Cleveland for the second American League wild-card spot.

"It's just a good night," Rios said.

"I knew I had to go," he added, discussing his thought process when he saw the ball shoot up the alley. "It's the best part of Rangers Ballpark to hit the ball if you're looking for a triple."

It was the perfect night for the Rangers, who started a seven-game homestand to end the season with authority. They snapped a seven-game home losing streak.

The Rangers know they might have to win every game from here on out to get one of those wild-card spots. So this was a momentum boost.

"It was huge," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "As a hitter, you're looking for a game to click. We needed to get the momentum going. We had quality at-bats today and hopefully we carry it over for the week."

Rios and pitcher Derek Holland helped set the tone in Game 1 of this crucial week. Holland had a complete-game shutout, his second of the season and seventh of his career.

Rios started the offense in the right direction in the bottom of the first, clubbing a two-run double for a 2-0 lead, scoring Ian Kinsler and Andrus, who each had singles.

Rios led off the fourth inning with a single and scored on a bases-loaded walk by David Murphy. It was actually the only bad part of the night for Rios, who failed to tag up on a fly ball to center field by Craig Gentry, who batted right before Murphy.

Hitting for the cycle made it easier to forget the baserunning gaffe. But Rios did he say he would happily give up one of his four RBIs to Gentry.

"You still have to think about your teammates, too," Rios said. "It's all good."

Rios belted a home run in his third at-bat in the bottom of the fourth, a long drive to left field for his 18th of the season. That left him a triple shy of the cycle. He took care of that in the bottom of the sixth.

Rios was greeted with a standing ovation when he went out to the field for the top of the seventh.

"I had goose bumps when I was running to right field, so it felt great," Rios said.

He was drenched with a beer and champagne bath after the game.

"It was cold," Rios said. "I couldn't even speak when I was getting drenched. But it was nice."

Rios' cycle came on a night when the Rangers desperately need to get their offense cooking. They scored four runs in three games in Kansas City. The at-bats were much better all-around on Monday night, with Rios the main attraction.

"I see it as a good game at the plate," Rios said. "Having a good approach and having good results."