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Beltre Hits 3 Homers As Rangers Rout Orioles

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Adrian Beltre celebrates with Josh Hamilton after hitting his second two run home run of the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 22, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON (AP) – It certainly wasn’t the homecoming Tommy Hunter envisioned.

Baltimore’s right-hander, who spent parts of four seasons with the Rangers and still lives in the area, took a beating at the hands of his former team and its All-Star third baseman in his first start in Texas since being traded last season.

Adrian Beltre hit three home runs, including two in the Rangers’ nine-run fourth inning, and had five RBIs in a 12-3 victory over Baltimore.

Beltre had two attempts to match the achievement of teammate Josh Hamilton, who in May became the 16th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a game.

“I didn’t make good pitches,” said Hunter (4-8), who spent parts of four seasons with the Rangers before a 2011 trade-deadline deal that also sent first baseman Chris Davis to the Orioles for right-handed reliever Koji Uehara.

Hunter surrendered eight runs, eight hits and three home runs in three innings. He entered the game having given up the third-most home runs in the AL and is one of three pitchers in the majors to allow more home runs than walks.

“The home run situation . that’s frustrating,” Hunter said. “I don’t try to give them up. I don’t say, ‘Here’s a fastball over the plate, hit it out.’

“It was a bad outing. I can put it behind me and be better.”

Nick Markakis went 3 for 4 with three RBIs for Baltimore.

Beltre hit a solo homer in the second and two two-run home runs in the fourth in support of Derek Holland (8-6), who pitched seven innings and gave up three runs and five hits, striking out five and walking three.

The Rangers sent 12 men to the plate in the fourth and Mitch Moreland hit his first career grand slam for four of his career-high tying five RBIs.

“It was a fantastic night,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I was hoping for him to get a fourth one also, but it didn’t work.”

With his first home run, Beltre became the ninth third baseman in major league history with 10 seasons of at least 20 home runs. His first homer in the fifth marked the 23rd multihomer regular-season game of his career.

“He made a lot of mistakes,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Hunter. “And they made him pay for it.”

The Rangers gave Holland plenty of breathing room by breaking the game open in the fourth.

Hamilton started the inning with a single and was followed by Beltre, who hit his second homer of the game into the stands in left.

Nelson Cruz and Michael Young followed with singles before David Murphy’s run-scoring double. A walk to Geovany Soto set up Moreland’s grand slam.

Three batters later Beltre hit his second homer of the inning, driving in Hamilton, who walked.

Beltre, who entered the game hitting .244 in his last 31 games, is hitting .462 (6 for 13) in his last three games.

“I’ve been kind of struggling for a couple of weeks,” Beltre said. “I’ve been working in the cages trying to find a comfort zone with my feet and hands.

“The last three days I stuck with something.”

Beltre, Murphy, Young and Ian Kinsler all had more than one hit. Shortstop Elvis Andrus was the only starter without a hit for the Rangers, who improved to 13-8 in August and maintained a five-game lead over Oakland in the AL West.

Murphy has five multihit games in his last six and is hitting .519 with four doubles, one home run and seven RBIs during the same period. Since July 24 he leads the majors with 13 doubles.

“That’s a big, strong boy up there,” Markakis said. “As hard as he swings, he gets good wood on the ball and hits it hard somewhere. Tonight they went out.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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