CLEVELAND (AP) — Texas manager Jeff Banister felt good about returning to .500. Now he wants the Rangers to keep going.
Mitch Moreland hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning, and the Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians 4-3 on Tuesday night for their seventh consecutive victory.
Prince Fielder also connected for a three-run shot as the Rangers (23-23) got back to .500 for the first time since the sixth game of the season. Fielder is batting .583 (14 for 24) with five homers and 15 RBIs in his last five games.
“The reality is the day we start worrying about if we’re .500 or one game over or below .500 really goes against the concept that we set out for all of spring training,” Banister said. “Ultimately you set out to win the game today with the idea you’re end goal is to get to the playoffs.”
Moreland’s fifth homer came on a 2-0 pitch from Nick Hagadone (0-1) with one out.
“I was trying to get a good pitch, something I could drive,” Moreland said. “I was able to get a fastball and I turned around on it.”
Josh Hamilton, playing his second game of the season for Texas, was hitless in four at-bats and is 0 for 7 in his return to the Rangers.
Keone Kela (4-1) pitched a scoreless seventh, and Shawn Tolleson worked a rocky ninth for his fifth save in five chances.
Tolleson retired his first two batters, but shortstop Elvis Andrus booted Jason Kipnis’ ground ball and Carlos Santana was hit on the wrist by a pitch. Michael Brantley then hit a tapper to the mound for the final out.
Indians manager Terry Francona said X-rays on Santana’s wrist were negative.
The start of the game was delayed for 56 minutes because of rain.
Jason Kipnis and Ryan Raburn homered in the first for Cleveland, which has dropped two straight after winning six in a row.
Indians starter Danny Salazar was in command before he walked Leonys Martin and hit Shin-Soo Choo with one out in the fifth. Fielder drove Salazar’s next pitch into the seats in right for his 10th homer. He also leads the AL with a .371 batting average.
“What he’s doing right now is unbelievable,” Moreland said. “He’s making it look easy.”
Salazar remained in the game after being treated for a cut fingernail on his right hand. He allowed six hits and walked three in 5 2/3 innings.
Texas starter Wandy Rodriguez gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Hamilton, acquired from the Angels on April 27, struck out in the first, grounded out in the fourth, flied out in the fifth and lined out in the eighth. The 2010 AL MVP is coming back from offseason shoulder surgery.
“I felt like the last three at-bats were really a good sign,” Banister said. “Really close. Like what we see.”
PEOPLE WERE WATCHING
Hamilton’s return brought the highest ratings of the season for the Rangers on their local broadcasts on FOX Sports Southwest in Dallas-Fort Worth. Monday’s game drew a 4.3 television rating.
Rangers: No timetable has been established for the return of RHP Neftali Feliz, who had surgery for an abscess on his right side Saturday.
Indians: C Yan Gomes made his second start behind the plate since returning from a sprained right knee. Gomes, who was injured April 11, had a sacrifice fly and a single.
Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis will start the finale of a nine-game trip. He has been supported by seven or more runs in each of last four starts.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco lost to the Rangers on May 17, allowing five runs in eight innings, including a two-run homer to Moreland.