BOSTON -- They bash, they pitch and they keep winning.
So much for any hangover affect from losing last year's World Series for the Texas Rangers.Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer and drove in four runs, Derek Holland pitched seven solid innings and the red-hot Rangers completed a two-game sweep with a 6-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.
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Unlike Tuesday when the Rangers pounded Boston's pitching en route to a lopsided win, they relied on the formula that's helped them to the AL's best record."They've been outstanding," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of his starters, who improved to 8-0 for the first time in club history. "They worked hard in spring training to do what they're doing. We're playing good baseball and we're doing it in different ways."Texas, which improved to 10-2, once again got strong starting pitching. The Rangers' starters have posted a 1.84 ERA in their last eight games, allowing three runs or fewer in the previous six.Josh Hamilton had three singles and drove in a run for the Rangers, who won their sixth straight.It was Napoli's fourth home run in three games to go along with a two-run double. He hit a pair of homers in the Rangers' lopsided win Tuesday.He's hit 10 homers and driven in 24 runs in 20 games against the Red Sox since the start of 2010."We know we've got a team," Napoli said. "We've got some good starters that can throw strikes and keep us in games."Holland just feels like they're concentrating on each start, not what's been happening at the start of the season."We don't think like that," he said. "If you screw up, you're not going to be out of the rotation."Kevin Youkilis had a two-run homer for the Red Sox, who dropped their third consecutive game, and Josh Beckett (1-2) took the loss despite holding the Rangers down one night after they hit six homers in an 18-3 win.Holland (2-0) held Boston to two runs on four hits, walking three and fanning seven.Boston has lost eight of its last 10 games at Fenway Park against the Rangers.
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Napoli has gone 7 for 13 with nine RBIs in his last three games."The guy seems like he hits .700 against us lifetime," Youkilis said.The Red Sox have lost eight of their first 12 games this season heading into their first matchup against the rival Yankees, who come to town Friday for Fenway's 100th anniversary celebration.Beckett allowed three runs on seven hits, striking out seven and walking one. It was his second straight strong start, coming off an eight-inning, one-run outing when he got the victory over Tampa Bay in Boston's home opener last Friday."I made one big mistake with the pitch to Napoli and ultimately it was bad for me and bad for the team. It kind of put us in a little bit of a hole."Pinch hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined into a game-ending double play against Joe Nathan with runners on first and third. Ryan Sweeney, running on the pitch from first, was doubled up by first baseman Brandon Snyder."The first pitch to Saltalamacchia we were holding him on and decided to take him off (the bag)," Washington said. "It was the right move."Trailing 2-0 in the third, the Rangers cut the deficit in half on Hamilton's RBI single. Ian Kinsler walked with one out and advanced to third on Elvis Andrus' single, but Andrus was cut down at second by left fielder Darnell McDonald. Hamilton then bounced one up the middle that second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a diving play on, but was unable to get a strong throw to first.Texas jumped ahead 3-2 in the fourth when Napoli homered into the Green Monster seats after David Murphy singled. Napoli later doubled off the left-field wall, making it 6-2 in the eighth.Boston had taken a 2-0 lead in the second when Youkilis homered off the base of a light tower above the Monster.Youkilis struck out in each of his four at-bats Tuesday, two days after manager Bobby Valentine questioned his commitment to the game in a taped TV appearance, then apologized the following morning.Hamilton is 11 for 18 with nine RBIs in his last four games.
Rangers INF Michael Young was sidelined with a stiff back. Washington said it was precautionary and he should play Thursday when they face the Tigers in Detroit. Japanese star Yu Darvish (1-0) is scheduled to face the Tigers' Adam Wilk (0-1). ... The Red Sox are off Thursday. Clay Buchholz (1-0) is slated to open the three-game series against the Yankees' Ivan Nova (2-0). ... Hamilton had gone 50 at-bats without a walk this season before he drew one against Matt Albers in the ninth. ... Valentine said he thinks "it's close" that RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last June, will make a rehab start.