ARLINGTON (AP) – The Texas Rangers have never finished with the best record in the American League in their history.
They’re in position to do so with four home games to play following a 6-4 win Tuesday night over the Milwaukee Brewers thanks in part to a pair of ex-Brewers.
Carlos Gomez, traded to Houston at the 2015 trade deadline and acquired by Texas five weeks ago, hit a mammoth three-run home run in the third inning. Jonathan Lucroy, dealt to the Rangers at this year’s deadline, hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the sixth inning.
The Rangers now have a half-game lead over Boston for the best record in the American League. The Red Sox lost 6-4 to the Yankees on Tuesday.
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“It’s a distinct advantage,” Lucroy said of home-field advantage through the league playoffs — with the AL already owning home field for the World Series. “Anytime you’re in a playoff series, you want to play at home. That’s our goal right now. I know that’s what I’m playing for.”
Lucroy’s hit made a winner of reliever Tony Barnette (7-3). Barnette worked one scoreless inning, leaving runners at second and third in the sixth. It was his first appearance since Sept. 4, having been sidelined with a strained oblique.
“It was impressive for Tony with the layoff, the injury, the pitches that he made, the ability to work his way out of the inning,” manager Jeff Banister said.
Sam Dyson earned his 37th save, striking out Domingo Santana to leave runners at first and third in the ninth inning. Five Rangers relievers worked 4 2/3 innings following starter A.J. Griffin and built the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 24 2/3 innings though it allowed an inherited run to score.
Lucroy, who played six-plus seasons for the Brewers, pulled a pitch from Jimmy Nelson (8-16) down the left-field line into the corner.
Nelson leads the National League in losses and walks. Three of the four batters that he walked on Tuesday scored.
“Extremely frustrated,” Nelson said of his season. “All I can do is trust that it’ll turn around.”
Griffin lasted only 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. That included his 27th and 28th home runs in 119 innings this season.
Gomez has seven homers in 30 games for Texas after hitting five in 85 games for the Astros. The homer traveled an estimated 444 feet to left field.
“It’s only 30 games that I’ve been playing here, and I have some sensations that I never had,” Gomez said. “I just come to the plate with that confidence.”
CHOO VERDICT COMING SOON
Banister said a decision will likely be made either Wednesday night or early Thursday whether to return Shin-Soo Choo (fractured left forearm) to the active roster for the final regular-season series against Tampa Bay. Choo is rehabbing with the Rangers’ instructional league team in Arizona.
“Is he physically capable,” Banister asked, “and do we feel the rhythm and timing is everything that it takes to play at this level?”
This is Choo’s fourth stint on the disabled list this season, limiting him to 45 games. He leads the team in on-base percentage at .369.
Carlos Beltran, 39, stole a base for the first time since 2014 and made a diving catch in right field. … Texas extended its majors leading total for come-from-behind wins to 48. . Rougned Odor is hitless in his last 22 at-bats.
Brewers: Manager Craig Counsell said he gave LF Ryan Braun (sore wrist) a day off on Tuesday and that Braun should play in Wednesday’s series finale.
Brewers RHP Chase Anderson (9-11), a native Texan who lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is 5-1 with a 2.30 ERA over his last 11 starts.
If Rangers LHP Cole Hamels (15-5) pitches at least 6 1/3 innings in what should be his regular-season finale, he’ll reach 200 for the season for the eighth time in 11 years.
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