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A-Rod: Five straight seasons with 40+ HRs

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Alex Rodriguez wasn't thinking about
being in last place or the possibility of another strike. He just
kept hitting the ball hard.

Rodriguez hit three home runs, becoming the sixth player ever
with five straight 40-homer seasons, as the Texas Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-5 on Saturday night.

"When you have nights like tonight, you don't really think much about the past or the future,'' Rodriguez said. "I was pretty much possessed by the moment and it was a great feeling. Hopefully, I can prolong it as much as I can.''

Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the first inning, his 40th of the season. He added Nos. 41 and 42 with solo shots leading off the third and seventh innings.

Before striking out to lead off the fifth, Rodriguez had reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances -- including three straight homers.

His solo homer in the ninth inning Friday night gave the Rangers
a 6-5 win and ended a 4-for-4 night in which he also had a walk. He
singled in his final at-bat Wednesday in an 11-6 win against the
Chicago White Sox.

"When I feel the way I do, I don't do a lot of preparing,'' said Rodriguez, the 27-year-old who is already a six-time All-Star. "I just go up, see the ball and hit the ball.''

Rodriguez never had a chance for his fourth homer, getting left on deck when Mike Lamb struck out to end the eighth. A-Rod insisted that a four-homer game never crossed his mind.

Rafael Palmeiro and Herbert Perry also homered for the Rangers.

Rodriguez leads the majors with 107 RBI, and is second in homers to Sammy Sosa, who hit his 43rd for the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. This is also Sosa's fifth straight 40-homer season.

"There are a few guys in the majors at a different level, and
Alex is definitely right there at the top of that list,'' Rangers
manager Jerry Narron said. "Not to take anything away from anybody
else, but he is the best of all. And his career will prove that out.''

Babe Ruth holds the major league record with seven straight 40-homer seasons from 1926-32. Ralph Kiner, Duke Snider and Ken Griffey Jr. have all had five in a row.

Rodriguez's first two homers Saturday, a 404-foot shot to left
and a 416-foot blast to right-center came off Steve Parris (5-4).
He hit a 366-foot homer down the right-field line off Corey Thurman
in the seventh.

"He's on fire. I tried to get the ball up, and it didn't happen,'' Parris said. "Who knows? He might have hit it 500 feet.''

It was the second three-homer game of Rodriguez's career, the other also coming against the Blue Jays while he was with Seattle on April 16, 2000. He has seven multihomer games this season, and 27 in his career.

"I'm not amazed. I'm used to seeing that,'' Palmeiro said.

After Rodriguez struck out in the fifth, the Rangers went ahead
to stay.

Palmeiro followed with his 33rd homer to tie it at 5. Ivan
Rodriguez then doubled, his third hit of the game, and scored on
Carl Everett's single. Everett also had three hits.

Toronto had twice come from behind to lead before that against
Rob Bell.

Josh Phelps, who led off the second with his fifth homer, put the Blue Jays ahead 3-2 with his RBI double in the third. Eric Hinske's run-scoring single in the fourth gave Toronto a 5-4 lead and chased Bell.

Orlando Hudson drove in two runs for Toronto, with a sacrifice
fly in the second and a 409-foot homer to center on the first pitch
of the fourth.

Perry's two-run homer came off Luke Prokopec, the third Toronto
pitcher in the seventh.

Dennys Reyes (1-0) pitched 2 1/3 innings in relief of Bell for
the victory.

Bell gave up five runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings. He has
allowed at least eight hits in seven of his last eight starts.

Parris allowed six runs and nine hits in five innings. Since
winning five straight in six starts from July 6-Aug. 5, the
right-hander has lost two in a row, having given up eight runs on
10 hits in 3 2/3 innings against Anaheim a week earlier.

Game notes
There have been a major league-high 192 home runs hit at The Ballpark in Arlington, including at least one in 40 straight games. The Rangers have 101 homers at home this season. ... Toronto has lost seven straight against Texas since winning the first game
in this season's series, 2-1 on April 23. ... Everett made a nice sliding catch along the right-field line in the sixth inning to rob Ken Huckaby of a hit. ... Palmeiro has four homers his last seven
games. ... Utah Jazz center Greg Ostertag and his sister, Amy Hall,
threw out first pitches. On June 27 in Dallas, Hall received a
kidney transplant from her brother.