Rangers power past Braves
ATLANTA — Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister said he didn’t mind having to play in a National League ballpark in the middle of a race for an American League wild-card spot, and there is a good reason for that.
Texas can slug with anyone even without the designated hitter, proving that again in an 8-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night that improved the Rangers’ interleague record to 13-5.
Elvis Andrus, Nomar Mazara and Rougned Odor smashed home runs, giving the Rangers a major-league-best 215, as Texas pulled within two games of the Minnesota Twins in the race for the second AL wild card.
“If you look around the locker room, we’ve got strong guys here that can get the ball out of the ballpark,” Mazara said. “It’s crazy, but that’s how it is. When you hit homers, it’s always fun.”
The Rangers (69-68) have won 19 of their past 31 games, and their interleague win total is one off the team’s single-season record.
Carlos Gomez had three hits, including two doubles, and Odor drove in three runs, adding a double to his homer. Seven of the Rangers’ 11 hits were for extra bases, with Joey Gallo getting a triple.
“It doesn’t surprise me (that the Rangers lead the majors in homers). Looking up at the scoreboard, everybody has 20-something,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.
Andrew Cashner (9-9) won for the sixth time in his past eight decisions, surrendering just a two-run homer to Matt Adams over six innings. He also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
The right-hander gave up six hits, walked two and struck out five, leaving after throwing 101 pitches and lowering his ERA to 3.29.
“Getting those soft-contact outs is key for him,” Banister said. “They made him work, but for six innings, a strong outing for Cash, in my opinion.”
R.A. Dickey (9-9) gave up two of the Texas homers and needed 96 pitches to labor through 4 1/3 innings for the Braves (60-76).
“He’s normally a match for anybody, but his knuckleball didn’t have the bite it normally has,” Snitker said.
The 42-year-old Dickey was charged with seven runs (six earned) on eight hits while walking three and striking out three.
“When I felt like I had to elevate it go get strikes called. (The knuckleball) flattened out on me, and they hit some on the screws,” Dickey said.
Andrus, who came in 1-for-17 against Dickey, hit his 19th home and third in two days two batters into the game. The Rangers then scored twice in both the second and third innings to take an early 5-0 lead.
The first run in the second was the result of a sacrifice fly by Cashner, who became the first Texas pitcher ever to get an RBI that way, and the other was the result of a passed ball. Gallo had an RBI triple and Odor delivered a sacrifice fly in the third.
Adams belted his 20th homer with a man on for the Braves in the fourth, but the Rangers got homers from Mazara and Odor in the fifth to make it 8-2.
Mazara’s 17th blast came off Dickey, and Odor connected with a runner aboard off reliever Matt Wisler for his 28th homer.
“Some of the guys had big swings tonight. Rougy put the dagger in there late,” Cashner said. “I think we’re swinging the bats really well. Guys are feeling good. We’ve been playing really good baseball lately.”
NOTES: The teams hadn’t played since 2014. The Rangers made their first trip to Atlanta since 2011. ... Players from the Braves and Rangers were outside the main entrance to SunTrust Park accepting donations for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. ... The Rangers recalled OF Jared Hoying and Triple-A Round Rock and LHP Yohander Mendez from Double-A Frisco. ... Neither SS/2B Jurickson Profar, once the Rangers’ top prospect, nor OF/2B Willie Calhoun, acquired in the Yu Darvish trade, was promoted with the end of the minor league season. ... The Braves activated 3B Adonis Garcia (finger surgery) from the disabled list and recalled OF/INF Micah Johnson from Triple-A Gwinnett. ... RHP Miguel Gonzalez (7-10, 4.31 ERA) will start Tuesday’s middle game of the series in his Rangers debut after being acquired from the Chicago White Sox. ... RHP Julio Teheran (9-11, 4.75 ERA) will start for the Braves.