Rangers win 8th straight; Garland falls to 8-2

ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Kevin Mench turned on the inside
fastball, the ball was long gone.

So was Chicago White Sox right-hander Jon Garland's chance to be
the first nine-game winner in the major leagues.

Mench's towering three-run homer with two outs in a six-run
sixth inning put Texas ahead to stay, and the Rangers went on to
win 12-4 and extend the longest active winning streak in the majors
to eight games.

"It was a bad pitch. I didn't get it in enough," Garland said.
"It's my mistake for going in there, but you get a new ball and
move on."

But the Rangers weren't finished as Laynce Nix doubled and
Richard Hidalgo walked. Both scored on a double by Rod Barajas for
a 7-3 lead, and Garland didn't return after the sixth.

Garland (8-2), whose start was pushed back a day after
Saturday's rainout, allowed a season-high seven runs on nine hits.

"Terrible," Garland rated his performance. "I lost, plain and
simple. I'm a better pitcher than that. I should have gotten out of
that inning, but things didn't go my way."

It was his second straight loss after winning 10 starts in a
row, including the final two of 2004.

After a pair of three-game sweeps of last-place Houston and
Kansas City, the Rangers twice beat the White Sox (33-17), who have
the best record in the majors.

Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock hit back-to-back homers in the
eighth for the Rangers, who now play 12 straight road games after
the longest undefeated homestand in team history.

The only question about Mench's drive down the left-field line
was if it would stay fair. The ball easily cleared the foul pole,
that is about 100 feet high, and landed in the club level 432 feet
from home plate -- only the 11th time someone hit one there.

"It got high up and the wind kept it fair," Mench said.

Things were going good for Garland until David Dellucci and
Michael Young singled to open the sixth. And he still had a 3-2
lead after Teixeira hit an RBI grounder, beating out a double play,
and right fielder Jermaine Dye made a running, lunging catch of
Blalock's flyball.

"One of the keys to the game was Tex beating out the
double-play ball," manager Buck Showalter said. "Then, Kevin did
his thing."

Before Mench's eighth homer, Alfonso Soriano singled to keep the
inning alive.

"It was one bad inning," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
"They're swinging the bats really hot. They're hot and we're not.
We didn't play the way we have been."

Chicago was 4-5 on its road trip. The White Sox return home
Monday, when slugger Frank Thomas will be activated from the
disabled list (left ankle) to play for the first time since last
July 6.
Chan Ho Park (5-1) threw the last of his 105 pitches before the
Rangers' six-run outburst, but he earned his fourth straight win
over seven starts -- all Rangers victories. He allowed three runs
and six hits in six innings, with four strikeouts and four walks.

It is the first time in his career that Park has been 5-1. He
already has one more victory than last season.

"I feel good. Other pitchers have been pitching better, and
that helps me get a better idea," Park said.

Texas starters have won all eight games in the winning streak,
the first time in team history for starters to win eight straight
games. They have allowed just 14 earned runs over 55 innings (2.29
ERA) in the span.

After A.J. Pierzynski homered leading off the fourth, Joe Crede
added a sacrifice fly. Juan Uribe had an RBI single to give Chicago
a 3-1 lead. Park was nearing 100 pitches after the next inning, but
Showalter stuck with him.

"I was tempted to take him out, but he had a good look in his
eye and said the right things," Showalter said. "He keeps
competing, and doesn't just start throwing. He doesn't let
adversity put him in a different mode."

Texas led 1-0 after Blalock led off the second with a single,
moved to third on Soriano's double and scored on Nix's sacrifice
fly. That was the only trouble for Garland until the sixth.

Teixeira added a three-run homer, his 13th of the season and
seventh in five games, with two outs in the eighth. Blalock
followed with his ninth.

Game notes
Every Texas starter had a hit. ... Uribe, 4-for-45 in his
previous 13 games, went 3-for-4. ... Soriano had his fifth error in
14 games, bobbling Pierzynski's grounder in the fifth. The second
baseman has 11 errors this season. Two innings later, he made a
running catch in short right field to rob Paul Konerko of a hit.
... No makeup date for Saturday's game has been set. It will have
to be played as part of a doubleheader Aug. 29 or 30 when the White
Sox return to Texas.