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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Adrian Beltre’s 406th career home run was no big deal to the 18-year veteran.
But Ryan Strausborger’s first homer, in his seventh major league game, was part of a dream come true.
Beltre’s tiebreaking homer in the third inning and Strausborger’s insurance run the next spoiled Drew Smyly’s return, and the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on Sunday afternoon.
“It was awesome,” Strausborger said. “It was hard not to run around the bases with a smile on my face, but I couldn’t help but smile when they all greeted me at the dugout.
“Not necessarily hitting a home run for your first time in the big leagues, but getting to the big leagues, was the dream.”
For the 27-year-old Strausborger, the call came Aug. 4, when the Rangers selected his contract from Triple-A Round Rock. He was playing in his sixth minor league season.
The right-handed batter was in the lineup against left-hander Smyly, who had been on the disabled list since May because of a torn labrum in his shoulder.
“I felt like it was my first game all over again,” Smyly said.
The Rangers treated him roughly. After Tampa Bay took leads of 1-0 and 3-2, Texas came back to tie the game 3-3 before the long balls finished the scoring.
Smyly (0-2) lasted four innings. He gave up seven hits, two walks and five earned runs.
The Rangers swept the three-game series and have won four straight games and seven in a row at home.
“The last 2 weeks we got a new bullpen, we got (Mike) Napoli back and we got a couple of guys on the bench that give us a better lineup,” Beltre said.
He wouldn’t say the moves made Texas a playoff-caliber team.
“We always have,” he said with a smile.
Yovani Gallardo (9-9) gave up three runs in the first two innings but blanked the Rays over the next 3 1-3 for his second straight win. He allowed 11 hits and a walk and struck out one.
Sam Freeman relieved Gallardo with one out and a runner at second base in the sixth and retired both batters he faced.
Shawn Tolleson pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 23rd save in 24 chances.
Beltre drove in two runs, and Strausborger was 3 for 4.
“Young man had a big day,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “This is a young man that is learning how to compete in the big leagues and contributing. In the middle of it. He made a huge impact today.”
The Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier also was 3 for 4, including a run-scoring double in the second, and stole a base.
Tampa Bay had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning on James Loney’s run-scoring single.
Shin-Soo Choo’s double and Beltre’s sacrifice fly drove in Texas’ two runs in the first.
Kiermaier’s double down the left field line and John Jaso’s single delivered two second-inning runs to give the Rays a 3-2 lead.
Delino DeShields’ bloop single later that inning tied the game 3-3.
Strausborger also had his first three-hit game — he had just 2 hits in his first 14 at-bats. Napoli, reacquired from Boston on Aug. 7, had a third-inning double, his first hit as a Ranger since a home run Oct. 1, 2012, at Oakland.
Rangers: LHP Derek Holland (strained shoulder) threw Sunday and could be ready to come off the DL for the first time since April 11.
Rays: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (9-4, 3.59) is the scheduled starter Monday to open a three-game series at Houston. Ramirez pitched seven scoreless innings in Tuesday’s win at Atlanta. His .201 opponents’ batting average leads the American League.
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels (6-8, 3.86) missed a start Thursday because of a sore left groin but has been cleared for the opener of a three-game set vs. Seattle on Monday. Hamels’ most recent start was a 4-3 loss on Aug. 7, when three Mariners hit home runs.
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