A four-run fourth inning that included a 388-foot solo blast from Prince Fielder was the difference-maker in a 6-3 Rangers victory over the White Sox Saturday night at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
The Rangers have won five consecutive games and three consecutive series after taking the first two games from Chicago. Ranger faithful can nod in approval like their Yu Darvish bobblehead doll, Saturday’s promotional giveaway, of the Texas offense, which has scored 34 runs over the last five games.
Every Ranger in the starting lineup recorded a hit Saturday. An offensive outburst is a welcome sight for a team that has struggled to produce runs early in the season.
"We played all those games in Spring Training and never put anything together. We played all the games in the beginning of the year and never put anything together. It's time to start getting consistent, and that's where we want to be," manager Ron Washington said.
Fielder led off the fourth frame with a towering shot that found the right field seats for his second home run as a Ranger. Josh Wilson hit a two-run, two-out, two-strike single to left field before an RBI double from Shin-Soo Choo extended the Ranger lead to 5-1. It was Choo’s second double and third hit of the night.
Kevin Kouzmanoff added an insurance run with a solo home run in the eighth inning to extend his Rangers hitting streak to 10 games, and his major league hitting streak to 936 days, dating back to 2011.
Colby Lewis was strong in his second major league start of the season, recording 5.1 innings, spreading six hits and striking out four on his way to his first Big League win in 22 months. Lewis got off to a great start, as he threw a perfect first inning on just 14 pitches.
The biggest challenge for the veteran hurler came in the second inning, when the White Sox led off the inning with three consecutive singles to dig Lewis into a bases-loaded, no-out jam. A double play ground ball off the bat of Alexei Ramirez plated the first White Sox run, but subdued the scoring threat. Lewis got out of the inning with only one earned run to his ledger with a strikeout of Tyler Flowers.
Lewis exited the game in the sixth with two men aboard after 85 pitches. While he said he was disappointed he didn't go deeper in the game, Lewis considered his outing as improvement.
"I felt like the 85 [pitches] I threw today were a lot better than the 88 I threw in my last start," he said. "I was more relaxed, I got the jitters out of the way and was able to focus more on myself tonight."
"His five-and-a-third tonight was 'super' five-and-a-third. He didn't make very many mistakes and he kept the ball in the ballpark," Washington said.
Lewis had plenty left in the tank when he left the game, but the game situation called for the switch.
"It just right there we had a lead and with Dunn coming up, I just didn't want a mistake to happen," Wash said.
Lewis walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the fans at Globe Life Park.
"As long as I can stay hyped up and emotional, I'll take 30 [starts]," Lewis said. "My body feels good, so as long as I can keep that feeling and continue to get the love and support of the fans, it's going to be a good year."
Washington mentioned before the game that Lewis would benefit from the opportunity to focus on his game and the team, rather than "proving he could do it." The combination of lefty Aaron Poreda, who was called up from triple-A after Tanner Scheppers went on the disabled list, and Jason Frasor ended the inning with no damage done.
The decision to go with Poreda out of the bullpen first had to do with the life on his fastball. With Adam Dunn coming up, Wash wanted to bring velocity from the left side, he said. Poreda retired Dunn with fastballs between 94 and 96 mph.
Chicago tacked on two more runs in the eighth inning as a Alexi Ogando struggled to hit his spots. The lanky setup man allowed three hits and a walk in the inning. Ramirez’s second double play grounder of the game ended the scoring threat.
Former White Sox outfielder Alex Rios put the Rangers on the board first when he lined an RBI double down the line in right field to score Shin-Soo Choo, who led off the game with a single. The Rangers have brought home a first-inning run in three consecutive games.
Joakim Soria recorded his third save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. The bullpen supported Lewis both on the field and off. Soria gave Lewis the game ball in the clubhouse after the game.
On an unrelated note, Adam Dunn stole second base in the fourth inning. It was Dunn’s first steal since April 5, 2013 against Seattle.
The Rangers can earn the series sweep of the Sox in an afternoon game on Easter Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m.