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Texas has won six-of-seven

4/28/2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- For Francisco Cordero to get the save in
the Texas Rangers' harrowing victory over Kansas City hardly seems
fair.

Second baseman Alfonso Soriano should get at least partial
credit for the Rangers' 3-2 win over the Royals on Tuesday night.

The quick-thinking second baseman almost single-handedly bailed
Cordero out of a bases-loaded crisis in the ninth. First he went to
his left to stop David DeJesus' grounder and came home for a
forceout on Ken Harvey.

Then with the bases loaded and one out, Soriano repositioned
himself because he figured Cordero was about to throw a breaking
ball to Mendy Lopez.

He did, and Soriano made a one-handed pickup to his right,
dashed to the bag for the second out and then fired to first to
complete a game-ending double play.

"I hit it hard. I can't hit it better than that," Lopez said.
"He made the difference."

Acquired from the New York Yankees in the blockbuster deal that
put Alex Rodriguez in pinstripes, Soriano is a major reason the
Rangers are 12-8 and tied with Anaheim for first place in the AL
West.

"The guy walks in the door every day with a smile on his
face," manager Buck Showalter said. "His teammates love him."

Soriano also had two singles and an RBI.

"You have to be ready before the play comes," Soriano said.

When DeJesus was at the plate, he knew Harvey, the runner at
third, is no sprinter.

"I'm thinking maybe the hitter will hit a groundball to me,"
he said. "You hit it hard, I want to go to the double play. But if
you hit it slow I want to go to home plate because the runner is a
little slow."

Just before Cordero delivered to Lopez, Soriano subtly shifted
his position.

"I move up a step because I think he will pull it. That's why I
made that play," he said. "If he hits a slow ball, I want to go
to home plate because I know they're running."

R. A. Dickey allowed four hits over 6 1-3 innings as Texas broke
a nine-game losing streak in Kansas City.

Dickey (3-1) walked three and struck out one as the Rangers won
for the sixth time in seven games and beat the Royals at home for
the first time since Sept. 2, 2001. Cordero got his sixth save in
six opportunities.

Jeremy Affeldt (0-2) pitched well for the second straight start,
going seven innings and giving up two earned runs. It was the 10th
loss in 12 games for the reeling Royals.

"We will change this thing around," Royals manager Tony Pena
said. "There's no question about it. This ballclub, I believe is
way too good to be playing the way we're playing right now."

In the eighth inning the Royals loaded the bases with one out
and made it 3-2 when Jay Powell walked DeJesus on four pitches.

But then Mike Sweeney, who hadn't batted in a week because of a
sore right wrist, grounded into a 5-2 forceout and Powell got Tony
Graffanino on a called third strike.

But Soriano was not only good on this night. He was also lucky.

With one out in the third and Hank Blalock on second following
an RBI double, Soriano hit a sharp grounder that was headed
straight to Royals second baseman Graffanino. But the 6-foot-4
Affeldt stuck out his left foot to stop the ball and deflected it
into right field, giving Soriano an RBI single and the Rangers a
2-0 lead.

Carlos Beltran led off the Royals' fourth with his second
straight single, moved up on an infield out and scored on Matt
Stairs' RBI single to make it 2-1.

The Rangers loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh on two
singles and first baseman Harvey's fielding error but got only one
run.

Soriano, who was 2-for-3 and is batting .351, struck out on
three pitches. Then Herbert Perry made it 3-1 with a sacrifice fly
and Brian Jordan struck out.<

Notes:@ The Royals learned RHP Kevin Appier will miss up to six
weeks with a strained muscle in his right forearm. The problem may
be related to the elbow surgery he had last winter. ... Jordan,
signed in the offseason but on the DL since late March with a
strained ligament in his left knee, went 0-for-3 in his first start
for Texas.