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Updated: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 1:54 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
2 5 0
Texas Rangers
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
5 7 1
W Benoit (2-1)
L Brazelton (0-3)
S Urbina (13)
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TEXAS 5, TAMPA BAY 2
 

ARLINGTON, Texas (Ticker) -- Alex Rodriguez contributed the big hit, but acknowledged pitching is responsible for the recent success of the Texas Rangers .

Rodriguez's two-run homer capped a four-run rally in the second inning as the Texas Rangers posted a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays .

The All-Star shortstop launched a 1-2 pitch from starter Dewon Brazelton (0-3) over the center field wall as the Rangers opened a 5-0 lead en route to their first four-game winning streak since September.

Despite registering his 13th home run, Rodriguez was most pleased about what is happening on the mound.

"It's all about good pitching, it starts and ends with pitching," Rodriguez said. "You can't expect to go out and score 10 runs a night in this league. We've pitched well and been able to come up with some timely hitting."

Texas starter Joaquin Benoit (2-1) bounced back from a poor outing in Boston on Wednesday, yielding just two runs and four hits in seven innings. The righthander struck out eight and walked two.

"Five runs is enough for a starter to win a game," Benoit said. "You can't let the other team come back if you want to consider yourself a starting pitcher."

After Aaron Fultz and Francisco Cordero combined to toss a scoreless eighth, Texas closer Ugueth Urbina pitched a hitless ninth to record his American League-leading 13th save.

"It's fun to play behind (good pitching)," Rodriguez said. "You get a chance to get in a rhythm. The key for us is getting to our bullpen which is the strongest part of our team."

Texas ranks last in the American League in ERA, but swept three games from the New York Yankees over the weekend, with two of those wins featuring solid outings from Ismael Valdes and John Thomson .

Valdes combined with three relievers on a five-hitter in a 5-2 win on Saturday and Thomson fired a three-hitter in Sunday's 5-1 win. Valdes' victory was the first by a Texas starter in 15 games dating to April 30.

"I've said all along if we could get five or six quality innings out of our starters, we could have fun this year," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said.

Coming off its success at Yankee Stadium, Texas kept the momentum going as Hank Blalock hit a one-out solo homer in the first inning. The third baseman also had an RBI single before Rodriguez came to the plate in the second.

Blalock finished 3-for-4 and improved his batting average at The Ballpark at Arlington this season to .449 (35-for-78) with seven homers and 20 RBI.

But Blalock also enjoyed watching Benoit's performance.

"When he's locked in and working fast, he's a lot better off," Blalock said. "When you take time between pitches, it gives the hitter confidence. He really went after them tonight."

Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella also was impressed by Benoit.

"He threw the ball well," Piniella said. "He has a nice arm and threw strikes. That's what you need to do to win at this level."

Aubrey Huff homered for the Devil Rays , who had their three-game winning streak in Texas snapped.


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