Rangers complete sweep of Rays

ARLINGTON, Texas — These days, the Texas Rangers don’t have to pound home runs to be successful. They’re pitching well, playing sound defense, and have shown the ability to manufacture runs with a small-ball approach.

Scott Feldman allowed three hits in six innings, David Murphy had three hits and an RBI, and the Rangers completed a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays with a 5-2 victory Sunday night.

The Rangers, still No. 2 in the AL with 120 homers, had three sacrifice flies and only two extra base hits against Tampa Bay. They got some good news after the game as outfielder Josh Hamilton will be reinstated from the 15-day disabled list Monday, in time to return to Texas’ lineup for the team’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.

“Our goal all along has been to be a versatile offense and score runs in different ways; do what the other team allows us to do,” Rangers All-Star third baseman Michael Young said. “It’s tough … to have to go out there and bang your way to big innings, so for us to manufacture a few runs and find a way to push across some runs was a good sign.”

In the first two games of the series, Texas got strong pitching performances from rookies Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland, both of whom registered their first major league victories.

Feldman (7-2) followed suit, striking out two and walking four to help the Rangers win their fifth straight and finish a 6-3 homestand.

Tampa Bay had six baserunners in the first four innings, but Feldman allowed only the two runs and worked out of trouble.

“I kind of realized that I wasn’t getting hit around, that I was just trying to be too fine early in the game and missing with my pitches just off the plate,” Feldman said. “I gave up two runs there, but I was able to limit the damage.”

Frank Francisco got three outs for his 14th save in 16 chances.

The Rangers remained tied with the Angels for the AL West lead, while Tampa Bay dropped its fourth in a row and fell six games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.

The Rays’ big three run producers — Longoria, Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist — were a combined 1 for 30 in the three-game series.

Tampa Bay had been on a roll, winning seven straight before dropping a game to Toronto, and then got swept in Texas.

“We were in a nice little groove and piled up some wins in a row,” Pena said. “Now we’ve dropped a few in a row. Is there anything different? I don’t think you can come up with the answer. I would say no. That’s how the game goes. (The Rangers) played great ball. They were extremely aggressive, they played unbelievable defense and their pitching was right on. They flat-out beat us.”

Tampa Bay starter Matt Garza (6-6) gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out seven and walked two. Garza had allowed two runs and 10 hits over 15 innings in consecutive victories, but struggled against the Rangers.

“He was just off,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “His fastball command wasn’t what it normally is.”

Texas took a 1-0 lead in the first when Marlon Byrd’s infield single drove in Ian Kinsler from third. The Rangers made it 2-0 in the second on Elvis Andrus’ sacrifice fly.

The Rays scored twice on a strange play in third. Tampa Bay had runners on second and third with nobody out when Evan Longoria hit a sacrifice fly that drove in B.J. Upton from third. Carl Crawford went from second to third on the play, then sped home when Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw wildly past third base for an error in an attempt to retire Crawford.

Texas grabbed a 3-2 advantage in the third on Nelson Cruz’s RBI groundout, then took a 5-2 edge in the fourth on consecutive sacrifice flies from Murphy and Byrd.

NOTES: To make room for Hamilton, the Rangers will send struggling first baseman Chris Davis to Triple-A Oklahoma City to get his swing untracked. Davis is batting .202 and leads the majors with 114 strikeouts. … Rangers GM Jon Daniels said RHP Vicente Padilla’s scheduled start Tuesday night against the Angels will be pushed back, probably to Wednesday night. Daniels said the Rangers will promote RHP Dustin Nippert from the 60-day DL to make Tuesday night’s start. Padilla, skipped from a scheduled start Saturday night, experienced right shoulder soreness during a bullpen session Sunday. … Crawford extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a fifth-inning single.

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