ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Rangers are AL West champions again.
Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre hit long home runs and Craig Gentry had an inside-the-park homer for AL West-leading Texas in a 5-3 victory over Seattle on Friday night.
About two hours later, the Rangers had their second consecutive division title after the Los Angeles Angels lost to Oakland.
The regular Friday night fireworks show went on as usual after the Rangers (91-66) finished their game.
Fans were then invited to stick around and watch the Angels on the stadium’s large video screen. Several thousand fans stayed in the stands and many of the Rangers players sat on the field with their families.
It is the fifth division title for Texas, which last year went to its first World Series.
Matt Harrison (14-9) worked six innings for the Rangers, who then waited and watched together to see if they would have their second consecutive division title before the end of the night. Texas went to its first World Series last year after its fourth AL West title.
Gentry hit a liner to left-center in the fourth that went to the wall after splitting the gap between two outfielders. Left fielder Mike Carp and center fielder Trayvon Robinson both made diving attempts to catch the ball, Robinson a few feet behind Carp.
The speedy Gentry initially wasn’t even running full speed, and made a stutter-step rounding first base before realizing the ball was rolling to the wall. He then took off and scored standing for his first career homer (in 176 at-bats over 93 games).
It was the first inside-the-park homer for the Rangers since Nelson Cruz at Oakland on Sept. 4, 2006. Cruz was on base when Gentry got his.
That made it 5-0 and chased rookie left-hander Anthony Vasquez (1-5), who gave up three homers and seven hits over 3 1-3 innings.
After Michael Young led off the second with a single, his 206th hit of the season, Beltre followed with a towering 409-foot homer to left, his 29th of the season. That also gave him 100 RBIs, his third career 100-RBI season, and nine homers in 12 games.
An inning later, Hamilton went deep for the sixth time in 10 games. His 25th homer was a 433-foot solo blast over the Rangers bullpen in right-center.
Harrison retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced until four consecutive Mariners reached to start the sixth. Ichiro Suzuki had an RBI single before Robinson walked to load the bases. Dustin Ackley and Miguel Olivo followed with consecutive sacrifice flies.
Harrison allowed three runs over six innings, giving up three singles and walking two. The left-hander is 4-0 in September, and 6-1 in 13 career games against Seattle.
Neftali Feliz, the fourth Texas reliever, worked the ninth for his 30th save in 36 chances.
For rookie Vasquez, this was his first start in his home state. But just like his previous start against the Rangers in Seattle, the left-hander from San Antonio allowed three homers, seven hits and five runs — though he got one more out than he did last Saturday.
Rangers left fielder David Murphy caught Kyle Seager’s popup in foul territory leading off the third even as a fan in the front row wearing a Rangers T-shirt and cap reached out to try to get a souvenir. The ball went over the fan’s glove and was caught by Murphy before their arms made contact.
When the replay was shown on the large videoboard, several fans jeered the man. But after Murphy caught the third out of the fourth, he ran by and handed that ball to the same fan.
NOTES: Texas is 13-4 against Seattle this season. … Hamilton has homered in four consecutive home games. … Mariners ace Felix Hernandez (14-13, 3.32 ERA) makes his last scheduled start of the season Saturday. His is fourth among AL starters with 220 strikeouts and 230 1-3 innings a season after winning the AL Cy Young Award with a 13-12 record. … Alexi Ogando (13-8, 3.58), given extra rest down the stretch by the Rangers, makes only his third start of September. … Mariners SS Brendan Ryan (back/neck) and OF Casper Wells (sinus affecting equilibrium) are not with the team, and manager Eric Wedge said they are doubtful to play again this season. SS Luis Rodriguez didn’t play a night after a hand injury in the ninth inning at Minnesota.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)