Facing the last-place Seattle Mariners again may just keep the five-time All-Star hot at the plate.
Hamilton looks to help the Rangers attempt to create some distance atop the AL West by continuing his success against the Mariners on Saturday night.
After receiving an injection in his sore left knee, Hamilton sat out Thursday's 5-3 loss to Cleveland. The knee didn't seem to be a problem the following day, when he had a double and a homer to help lead Texas (86-58) to a 9-3 victory over Seattle.
The 2010 AL MVP is hitting .333 with seven homers, 23 RBIs and 20 runs in his last 20 home games, and that could very well continue Saturday.
Hamilton is a career .331 hitter with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 39 games against Seattle (69-76) in Arlington. His 18 homers versus the Mariners are his most against any opponent, while his 53 RBIs equals his personal-best production against the Los Angeles Angels .
Though he's just 3 for 18 against Seattle starter Jason Vargas (14-10, 3.85 ERA) the past three seasons, all three hits left the park.
Hamilton leads the majors with 42 homers and 123 RBIs, and having him healthy increases the Rangers' chances at padding their three-game lead on Oakland for first place in the West.
Scott Feldman (6-11, 4.97) surely wouldn't mind seeing another strong performance from Hamilton as he tries to avoid extending his second lengthy losing streak of 2012.
The right-hander is 0-5 with a 5.97 ERA in six games since a win at Kansas City on Aug. 4. He dropped six starts in a row May 14-June 14.
Feldman's most recent outing was a 5-4, 10-inning win at Kansas City on Sept. 6, when he allowed three runs and six hits with six strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.
He's lost four straight starts to the Mariners with a 6.16 ERA, including two this year while surrendering nine runs in nine innings.
The Mariners have dropped five of seven while averaging 2.4 runs and hitting .183 with runners in scoring position. That's been a problem with the rotation compiling a 6.14 ERA in that stretch.
It was the bullpen that was the problem Friday, as three relievers gave up a seven-run eighth inning to Texas.
"These are things that can't happen," manager Eric Wedge said. "When you get steamrolled like that, it should be one (heck) of a wake-up call."
Vargas has pitched well while going seven innings in each of his last two starts in Seattle - he allowed three runs in a 4-2 loss to Oakland on Sunday - and his 2.62 ERA at home ranks among the AL's best.
It's been a different story for Vargas on the road. He has a 4.92 ERA away from Safeco Field, and allowed six runs in each of his last two outings while failing to escape the fifth inning in either.
Twenty-five of the 32 homers he's surrendered have come on the road. No other pitcher has given up more than 19 away from home.
He's split two season meetings with the Rangers - both on the road - while allowing seven runs in 13 1-3 innings. That includes a win opposite Feldman on May 29, when he yielded three runs in 6 2-3 frames.
Texas slugger Adrian Beltre is 0 for 11 against Vargas over the past two seasons.
|August 31, 2012||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained groin|
|August 25, 2012||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Sore groin|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||15-Day DL||Strained left groin muscle|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||15-Day DL||Strained left groin muscle|
|August 06, 2012||Brendan Ryan||Day-to-Day||Left elbow contusion|
|July 18, 2012||Charlie Furbush||15-Day DL||Strained left triceps|
|September 13, 2012||Mike Olt||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis, right foot|
|September 13, 2012||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Sore left knee|
|September 12, 2012||Adrian Beltre||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left shoulder|
|September 09, 2012||Roy Oswalt||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right elbow|
|September 02, 2012||Ian Kinsler||Day-to-Day||Lower back stiffness|
|August 31, 2012||Tyler Tufts||15-Day DL||Surgery, perforated bowel|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Rangers are seeing their lead in the American League West slip away.
Justin Smoak homered in the eighth inning and drove in a run in the ninth for Seattle to beat Texas 8-6 on Saturday night.
Texas lead in the division slipped to two games over Oakland, which beat Baltimore 5-2. It's as close as anyone has been to the Rangers since April 13 when the Rangers also led the division by two games.
The Rangers will play their final 17 games against AL West teams, including six against the Angels and seven against the A's.
Texas trailed 6-0 early before tying the game in the sixth inning.
"We fell behind early, and we fought and got back in it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "But we just couldn't stop them."
Smoak had three hits, two runs and three RBIs, helping Seattle build a 6-0 lead in the first three innings while sending Texas starter Scott Feldman to the bench after just 2 2-3 innings. Feldman, who had lost his last five starts going into the game, threw 71 pitches.
Dustin Ackley homered to lead off the third and Michael Saunders had a two-run triple. Saunders also had a RBI single in the first. Smoak scored Saunders with a single and Eric Thames plated Smoak to make it 6-0.
"They did hit some good pitches," Feldman said. "There were some pitches I threw where I wanted to and they hit them and others that got a little too much plate.
Martin Perez kept the Rangers in the game in relief of Feldman. He retired 13 of the 15 batters he faced, only allowing a walk and hitting a batter. He struck out five and became the first Texas reliever with over 4 1-3 innings pitched to allow no hits and no runs since Mark Brandenburg did the same in 4 2-3 innings against Seattle on July 6, 1996.
"I thought he was great," Washington said. "The kid came in and kept the ball down in the zone and had a good change up and was aggressive. He threw the ball extremely well."
Texas got on the board in the third after Seattle starter Jason Vargas walked the bases loaded. Nelson Cruz 's sacrifice fly scored a run for the Rangers to make it 6-1, but Vargas struck out Michael Young to end the inning.
In the sixth, catcher Mike Napoli , in his first start after a stint on the 15-day disabled list because of a left quadriceps strain, hit a three-run home run to bring the Rangers within two, 6-4.
Napoli made his last rehab start at DH on Friday night for Double A Frisco by going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Going into Saturday's game against the Mariners, Napoli joked that he told his Rangers teammates that he got those out of the way and `'left the strikeouts down there."
Cruz had an RBI single in the sixth and David Murphy a run-scoring ground out to tie it.
"This team never quits," Feldman said. "We kind of take it for granted sometimes what a competitive team we have and what a good team we have. They fought their way back and almost pulled it off in the end."
With the game tied 6-6 in the eighth, Tanner Scheppers relieved Perez and Smoak led off the inning with his 15th homer. He then had an RBI single in the ninth that scored John Jaso . Sheppers (1-1) took the loss, and after the game, Washington said he pulled Perez because he, "just felt like (Perez) was finished."
Lucas Luetge (2-1) got two outs for the Seattle victory while Tom Wilhelmsen got the final four outs for his 27th save in 30 chances.
NOTES: After the game, Texas recalled RHP Justin Grimm and RHP Wilmer Font from Double-A Frisco to give the Rangers 34 active players for Sunday's game. Grimm had a prior stint with Texas from June 16-July 6, while Font is looking for his Major League debut. .Mariners RF Casper Wells was a late scratch and was replaced by Eric Thames in right field. "He took a swing in the cage an his neck locked up pretty good on him," Manager Eric Wedge said about Wells. .Wedge reiterated that the team is going to give RHP Kevin Millwood time to recover from shoulder stiffness, plugging in RHP Erasmo Ramirez and RHP Hector Noesi . "We'll see if (Millwood's) going to pitch again," Wedge said.