ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Adrian Gonzalez rediscovered his power stroke and Jacoby Ellsbury made an immediate impact in his return to the lineup for the Boston Red Sox, who finally won a game in Texas.
Gonzalez homered twice after going deep only once in 155 at-bats over the previous 39 games, and Boston beat the AL West-leading Rangers 11-5 on Tuesday night to move within two percentage points of the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.
“I wasn’t hitting as many home runs, but I wasn’t worried about it,” said Gonzalez, who leads the majors with a .346 batting average. “I was getting on base. The main thing is we’re winning.”
The Red Sox (78-50) have been the best team in the majors since their 0-6 start that included being swept in three games at Rangers Ballpark in the season-opening series back in April. Boston then lost the opener of this series, limited to four singles in a 4-0 loss Monday night.
Ellsbury led off the game with a single, stole second base and scored when Gonzalez pulled a shot into the second deck of seats in right field to put the Red Sox ahead to stay. The All-Star center fielder had missed three straight games after getting hit in the back with a pitch.
Boston, which finished with 14 hits, had already matched its total from the series opener when Jed Lowrie and Carl Crawford had consecutive singles to start the second. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had an RBI double and Marco Scutaro a sacrifice fly in the inning for a 4-0 lead against Colby Lewis (11-9).
“We had a good offensive night and stayed at it. They put up the three, then we score again,” manager Terry Francona said. “It ended up being a real good night.”
Gonzalez hit a 402-foot homer to left-center in the fourth.
“That’s always a good sign,” Francona said of the opposite-field drive by Gonzalez.
That solo shot gave Boston a 7-3 lead. It was Gonzalez’s 20th homer of the season, and his 12th career multihomer game.
Texas native John Lackey (12-9) pitched 6 2-3 innings for his seventh win in his last eight starts.
Lackey has never particularly enjoyed pitching on the road against the Rangers. He entered with a 6-6 record and a 6.78 ERA in 17 career starts at Texas. That included nine runs in 3 2-3 innings in the season-opening series, when the Red Sox were swept in three games on the way to an 0-6 start.
This time, the big right-hander allowed four runs and seven hits with five strikeouts to maintain his recent momentum.
“It’s huge. Consistency. You know what you’re going to get. This is Lackey. It took us a while,” Francona said. “His ERA is higher, and it’ll probably be that way, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get the pitcher we wanted.”
Lackey also made a nifty play to start an inning-ending double play in the sixth.
He fell down in front of the mound after grabbing Yorvit Torrealba’s comebacker. From his knee, Lackey turned and threw to second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The pitcher emphatically pumped his fist when the double play was completed.
“It was big, but (Pedroia) probably would have had it anyway. He was behind me. I didn’t mess it up, I guess,” Lackey said. “I like to win. I get fired up about anything.”
Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler had solo homers for the Rangers, who lost for the fourth time in six games.
Lewis allowed seven runs and nine hits over six innings, including both homers to Gonzalez. He has given up an AL-high 30 homers this season.
“I’ve never given up a home run that wasn’t a strike. It’s just throwing strikes,” Lewis said. “I think it’s just one of those things, that it goes along with the territory of throwing strikes.”
The Red Sox scored two more runs in the third – in a similar fashion though a different order than in the second. Josh Reddick and Lowrie had consecutive one-out singles before Crawford had a sacrifice fly and Ryan Lavarnway a run-scoring double.
Scutaro and Pedroia added two-run doubles off the left-field wall in the eighth against reliever Mark Lowe. Scutaro’s ball ricocheted off the very top of the 14-foot wall and umpires looked at replays to confirm their ruling of the ball being in play after Francona questioned the call.
After three consecutive singles to start the Texas fourth, Elvis Andrus drew a bases-loaded walk before Hamilton and Michael Young had consecutive sacrifice flies.
Hamilton hit his 17th homer in the fifth, and Kinsler his 21st in the ninth.
NOTES: The Red Sox have hit a major league-leading 86 homers on the road. … Texas still has the best home record in the AL at 40-24. … In the fifth before his home run, Hamilton also had a highlight defensive play. Hamilton made a sliding catch on the gravel in foul territory down the left-field line on Reddick’s foul pop. … Also in the fifth, Ellsbury reached with full extension on a sprint to catch Kinsler’s fly in the left-center gap. … Matt Harrison pitches for Texas and Josh Beckett starts for Boston in a matchup of 10-game winners Wednesday.
© 2011 The Associated Press