In the Rangers' first interleague game of the season, Hamilton showed a little National League flair. His first career sacrifice bunt came between run-scoring doubles by Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz and Texas extended its winning streak to a season-best five in a row with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
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"That was amazing. It surprised me the way he did it," said Cruz, who was on deck when Hamilton squared around."Obviously they're not expecting it. That's in my favor," said Hamilton, known for long blasts and his 28 homers in the first round of the 2008 Home Run Derby at the old Yankee Stadium. "We've been talking about if the situation calls for it, you know, be a team player, get it done."In his 1,585th career plate appearance, in his 376th game and on his 29th birthday, Hamilton bunted after Guerrero's RBI double drove in Ian Kinsler to tie the game. Cruz then doubled.Colby Lewis (4-2) labored through six innings for his first victory in five starts.Lewis (4-2) didn't have a 1-2-3 inning until the sixth, but he had already thrown 109 pitches by then and was done. Darren O'Day and Frank Francisco each worked scoreless innings before hard-throwing right-hander Neftali Feliz extended his Rangers rookie record with his 12th save in 14 chances.Feliz worked around Tyler Colvin's pinch-hit double and benefited from Cruz's leaping catch against the wall in foul territory.Ted Lilly (1-4) pitched into the seventh but remained without a victory since winning his injury-delayed season debut April 24 for the Cubs. He is 0-4 his last five starts."The only thing I'm trying to do is win, whatever fashion it takes," Lilly said. "What it comes down to for me is giving up fewer runs. I need to pitch better. ... I will say we're capable of hitting better. Everyone's trying to find a way. I don't think you can look at any one thing. We're in this together for the rest of the year."An infield hit and two throwing errors got Kinsler to third leading off the fourth."Kinsler hustles out a single that turns into a triple and then we do what we have to do to get the runs in," manager Ron Washington said.Kinsler kept running after leading a slow roller that third baseman Mike Fontenot fielded and threw wide of first base. After second baseman Ryan Theriot grabbed the ball in short right field, he flung it into left field for another throwing error when trying to get Kinsler out at second.Lewis hadn't won since April 25, when he was 3-0 through his first four starts and then got a no-decision despite throwing nine scoreless innings his next outing. The right-hander was 0-2 in three May starts before facing the Cubs.The former first-round pick, who is back with the Rangers after spending the past two seasons in Japan, struck out four and walked three. Lewis had two walks and two strikeouts in a 30-pitch first inning.Lilly began the season on the disabled list while still recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery in November, then won his season debut -- and hasn't since. He allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings in Texas.Fontenot blooped a leadoff double into short left in the second. He scored when Geovany Soto grounded into a double play. But that was it for the Cubs, who left nine runners on base."It's time somebody gets a big hit around here. It really is. ... Once you get past the sixth week of the season, you don't need any more at-bats to get sharp," manager Lou Piniella said. "It's really not that hard. I played 17 years. It's not like I haven't played up here. It's not that hard, it really isn't. I know everybody's trying, but it's not that hard. "Former Rangers Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd had consecutive two-out singles in the eighth, grounders past third baseman Michael Young. But Francisco got out of the jam when Fontenot took a called third strike.
Former Cubs RHP Greg Maddux, an assistant to GM Jim Hendry, is with the team this weekend to work with young pitchers. Maddux also gets a chance to visit his older brother, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux. ... Soriano, still a second baseman when with Texas in 2004-05, was backpedaling in left field when he awkwardly reached up for Hamilton's flyball over his head that became a double.