Soriano hits two homers, extends hitting streak

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Alfonso Soriano doesn't have to be
concerned about his sore left hamstring as long as he only has to
trot around the bases.

Soriano homered twice against Tim Hudson in the pitcher's
shortest outing for Atlanta, and the Texas Rangers won 7-3 Monday
night for their first victory against the Braves.

"I don't have to worry about my leg when I'm hitting homers,"
said Soriano, who started just his third game after missing four
starts because of the hamstring.

Soriano's three-run homer in the first put the Rangers ahead to
stay and extended his hitting streak to 15 games, matching his
career best and the longest active in the major leagues. It was 4-0
when Soriano led off the third with his 18th homer.

"My hands and my mechanics are good," he said. "I'm seeing
the ball good. Everything is working good for me now, and I'm
trying to continue it the best I can."

Hank Blalock also homered for the Rangers, who extended their
home winning streak to nine games in their return after a 4-8 road
trip the past two weeks.

Atlanta, which has lost five straight series, had won all six
previous games against the Rangers. The Braves swept three-game
series in 2002 and 2003.

While Hudson struggled in his 2 2/3 innings -- against Soriano
and the rest of the Texas lineup -- Chris Young (6-3) threw seven
shutout innings to lower his ERA to 2.78. The 6-foot-10
right-hander had seven strikeouts, allowing just two singles and a

"He's tough because you're not used to seeing a pitcher that
tall," said Andruw Jones, who was 0-for-3 against Young before
hitting a two-run homer in the ninth off Francisco Cordero. "It's
hard to see where he's releasing his pitches."

Young threw 61 of 97 pitches for strikes, and retired 20 of the
last 21 batters he faced mixing his fastball with a curveball and a
changeup. His first loss in seven decisions was 2-0 at Philadelphia
last week, and he has allowed more than two runs just once his last
10 starts.

"Chris Young was outstanding again," manager Buck Showalter
said. "He keeps growing. Well, I don't know if he can grow, but he
keeps developing."

Hudson (6-5) allowed five runs on five hits and matched a season
high with five walks while throwing 76 pitches -- 38 balls and 38

"I just didn't have good stuff at all. I wasn't making good
pitches and was falling behind," Hudson said. "You can't do that,
especially when you don't have good stuff."

In six seasons for Oakland in the AL West before being traded to
Atlanta last December, Hudson pitched regularly against the
Rangers. He was 6-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 15 starts.

Two walks and a fielder's choice grounder set up Soriano's first
homer. The Rangers loaded the bases after two more walks in the
second before Blalock hit a hard liner to right for the final out.

Kameron Loe replaced Young to start the eighth, and allowed
Wilson Betemit's RBI double.

Blalock's two-run homer came off Jorge Vasquez in the fourth.
Soriano then followed with a long flyball to left, caught by a
backpedaling Ryan Langerhans, who slammed hard into the wall and
fell to the ground right after catching the ball.

By then, Soriano already had the fourth multihomer game this
season, and the 11th in his career. His first homer came on a
hanging curveball, and the other a fastball down the heart of the

"I gave him some pretty good cookies to hit," Hudson said.
"The way he's hitting right now. He's not going to miss those."

During the four missed starts last week, Soriano had a pinch-hit
single in his only at-bat. He is hitting .356 (21-for-59) during
this hitting streak, which matches the 15-game one he had in April
2003 for the New York Yankees.

Game notes
Atlanta is 7-15 in series openers this season, and have
lost nine straight series openers on the road. ... Rangers DH David
Dellucci drew two walks, increasing his AL-leading total to 45, two
short of his 2004 season total. ... The Rangers have their longest
home winning streak since winning 10 in a row in May 1998. The team
record is 11. ... Braves rookie Kelly Johnson, who is from Austin,
Texas, broke an 0-for-14 slump with a first-inning single.