gave the ailing
rotation a much-needed lift Friday night.
The rookie also got a cool birthday gift in the process.
Hunter earned his first career victory on his 23rd birthday,
homered and the
won their third in a row, beating the
Tampa Bay Rays
''He has great poise,'' Rangers manager
said of his young starter. ''He's not afraid to lose any of his pitches in any count. He attacked the strike zone. The most
important thing is they didn't know what he was going to throw.''
Hunter (1-1) was making his sixth career start and third this season. The right-hander allowed three hits and struck out five
in 5 1-3 innings to help slow down baseball's top-scoring offense.
sidelined, Hunter was called up from the minors Sunday and yielded two runs in 6 1-3 innings in a loss to San Diego.
Hunter went 0-2 with a 16.36 ERA in three starts last season. In the minors, he developed a changeup and a cut fastball.
Along with his first victory, Hunter's sister had a baby Friday to make him an uncle for the first time.
''It's fun to be able to use four pitches for strikes,'' Hunter said. ''It keeps them off-balance. They had a lot of broken
bats tonight. It went my way.''
, C.J. Wilson and
pitched 3 2-3 innings of scoreless relief to complete the three-hitter, which equals the fewest hits Tampa Bay has had this
season. Francisco pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save.
''We did not have a good game,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ''We made some mistakes and didn't come up with the clutch
Blalock, who hit a two-run homer in the ninth to beat the
Los Angeles Angels
on Wednesday night, had a two-run shot in the fourth.
B.J. Upton had an RBI single in the fifth, and the Rays were threatening to score more with runners on second and third in
Texas second baseman
saved at least one run, and probably two, when he made a diving catch to his left on
's liner to end the fifth.
''They've got my back,'' Hunter said. ''It's fun to play for a team like that.''
(4-5) made his second start for Tampa Bay, which has won eight of 11, since coming off the disabled list June 27. The left-hander
gave up three runs - one earned - and struck out six in five innings.
In the bottom of the fourth,
reached on a throwing error from Tampa Bay shortstop
Blalock was 0 for 7 lifetime with three strikeouts against Kazmir before he drove a 2-2 pitch into the seats in right to put
the Rangers up 2-0.
''He made me pay,'' Kazmir said. ''You don't throw a hanging slider to Blalock.''
Texas scored its second unearned run in the fifth.
Kinsler reached on a fielder's choice and took second when
made a wild throw on a double-play attempt.
brought Kinsler home with an RBI double that made it 3-1.
NOTES: Tampa Bay has moved RHP
, who was Sunday's scheduled starter, into the bullpen for the weekend series.
will start Sunday against the Rangers. Maddon said Niemann will likely be back in the rotation next week. ... Washington said
(sore shoulder) is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Angels. Padilla was originally slated to pitch Saturday, but was
pushed back. ... There was no delay when a bank of lights along the third-base line went out in the eighth inning. All lights
were working again a few minutes later. On June 13, the Rangers game against the Dodgers was delayed nearly two hours when
a light standard went dark.