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Rangers finish road trip with momentum

BALTIMORE -- The Texas Rangers' journey through Toronto, Cleveland and Baltimore started with some banged up players, some rough starts and some series losses. But it ended with an historic game from Josh Hamilton and three wins in four games over the Orioles, who had the best record in the AL with the series began. A few notes on what we learned about the Rangers on this road trip:

* After starting the road trip 2-4, the Rangers regrouped in Baltimore to go 5-5.

"The way the road trip started, to be 5-5, we'll take that," catcher Mike Napoli said. "We wanted to do better, but we'll take it."

* They head back to Arlington with a little momentum and a little better health. Maybe that second part is more important. Adrian Beltre's hamstrings didn't take well to the turf in Toronto and he didn't start at third base until Thursday in Baltimore. He came off the bench in Toronto and was eased back into the lineup. He looked good at third base Thursday (playing in Game 1) and his bat is big in the lineup.

* Josh Hamilton didn't play in Toronto with a stiff back, but returned to the lineup in Cleveland and then had his memorable four-homer night Tuesday at Camden Yards, becoming the 16th player in big league history to do that. Hamilton added a two-run homer in the first inning of Game 2 on Thursday, giving him six two-run homers in the four-game series in Baltimore. He was 8-for-17 with six homers and a double. His only single came in Game 1 on Thursday.

"I'm excited and happy I had a good series, but the series is over with now," Hamilton said. "We've got to go home and think about Anaheim."

* Elvis Andrus continues to swing a hot bat. He has now reached base safely in 28 games, tying Curtis Granderson for the longest streak this season. Granderson's streak ended Wednesday. He was 19-for-42 (.452) with seven RBIs on the 10-game road trip. He had a go-ahead RBI single with two outs in Game 2 on Thursday.

"He came up big tonight, no doubt about it," Washington said. "The stuff that Josh (Hamilton) was doing, Elvis was on the basepaths. That big hit he got with two outs was huge to give us the lead."

* Is Thursday a sign that Mike Napoli might slowly be figuring things out? Napoli had a struggling road trip at the plate, coming into Thursday's game at 4-for-27, but he had two hits, including his first triple in two years (and the fifth of his career). The triple scored Nelson Cruz to tie the score. Napoli later scoed on Andrus' single to give the Rangers the lead.

"I was just trying to move the runner over and when I saw (Nick) Markakis dive for it and not get there, I kept running," Napoli said.

He said he worked with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh on Thursday and they found something on video that Napoli was doing and he fixed it. Now the key is trying to make it a habit and do it more consistently. Perhaps a series against his former team will help Napoli do that.

* Derek Holland had a good road trip, after struggling in two home starts. He gave up one earned run in 13 1/3 innings in Cleveland and Baltimore.

"I didn't change anything," Holland said. "The only thing I was doing is leaving my off-speed stuff too much over the plate. I fixed that and got my fastball command going. That helped."

His manager was pleased with Holland's poise in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader. After the Rangers made three errors in the second inning that allowed three unearned runs to score and turn a 2-0 Rangers lead into a 3-2 deficit, Holland was able to bear down and not allow any more runs. He got through six innings and turned things over to the bullpen.

* Cruz wasn't hitting when this road trip started, but he went 11-for-43 (.255), which was an improvement over what he was doing at home.

* Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison also had bounce-back starts in Baltimore, perhaps giving them some confidence for the upcoming homestand.

* Mike Adams walked his first batter of the season Thursday, issuing two walks. He had gone 11 2/3 innings without one until Thursday, but he worked out of the trouble he was in to not allow a run in the eighth of the Rangers' win. Closer Joe Nathan also got some work, giving the bullpen a little action before this weekend.