By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Nomar Mazara looked around the Rangers’ clubhouse at all the power hitters on his team.
It’s quite a display.
“We’ve got strong guys here that can get the ball out of the ballpark,” he said. “It’s crazy, but that’s how it is. When you hit homers, it’s always fun.”
Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor and Mazara homered, Andrew Cashner pitched six strong innings and the Texas Rangers beat the Atlanta Braves 8-2 on Monday night.
The homer-happy Rangers have won two straight and five of seven to stay relevant in the playoff race. They’re two games out of the second wild-card spot.
Even with slugger Adrian Beltre nursing a hamstring injury and sidelined for the next four weeks, Texas still has plenty of power. The Rangers lead the majors with 215 homers, matching their total from last season.
“Some of the guys had big swings tonight,” Cashner said. “Rougy put the dagger in there late. I think we’re swinging the bats really well. Guys are feeling good. We’ve been playing really good baseball lately.”
Andrus, who homered twice on Sunday, made it 1-0 in the first inning with his 19th long ball. Mazara’s 17th homer and Odor’s 28th, a two-run shot, made it 8-2 in the fifth. That gave Texas seven homers over the last two days.
Cashner (9-9) gave up six hits, two runs and two walks and struck out five. In his last 10 starts, Cashner is 6-2 with a 2.62 ERA.
“Getting those soft-contact outs is key for him,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “It allowed him to grind through some innings with his curveball that allowed him to get some strikeouts in the middle innings. They made him work, but for six innings a strong outing for Cash, in my opinion.”
R.A. Dickey (9-9) allowed eight hits, three walks and seven runs — six earned — in 4 1/3 innings. The 42-year-old knuckleballer struck out three.
“The movement was good, but when I felt like I had to elevate it go get strikes called, it flattened out on me and they hit some on the screws,” Dickey said.
The Rangers led 3-0 in the second on Cashner’s sacrifice fly and a passed ball that scored Odor from third. They went up 5-0 in the third on Joey
Gallo’s RBI triple and Odor’s sacrifice fly.
Matt Adams cut the lead to 5-2 in the fourth with his 20th homer.
SWINGING FOR HISTORY
Cashner’s sacrifice fly was the first by a Rangers pitcher and the franchise’s first since Camilo Pascual did it for the Washington Senators on Sept. 5, 1968 against the Chicago White Sox.
Rangers C Robinson Chirinos went 0 for 2 but walked twice to reach safely for the 21st straight game, the team’s longest such streak this season.
Braves 1B Freddie Freeman began the game hitting .298 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs since returning July 4 from a broken left wrist, but he’s lost strength in his wrist recently. He went 2 for 4 but had hit just .194 over his previous 10 games. Snitker said he and Freeman discussed the situation a couple days ago and decided to stay with the slugger staying in the lineup. “He assured me there’s no pain, not hurting,” Snitker said. “He can back off the extra work and all that and just get himself ready and get through this OK.” Freeman has a doctor’s visit scheduled this week.
PLAY IT SAFE
Banister said there are no plans to add INF Jurickson Profar or top prospects OF Willie Calhoun and 1B Ronald Guzman in the immediate future because the Rangers can’t get them enough playing time with expanded rosters. “You can get to a point where the population can be a little high,” Banister said. Banister added that the players who have been with the team all season deserve a chance “to finish the job.”
Rangers: RHP Miguel Gonzalez (7-10, 4.31 ERA) will make his 23rd start of the season and his first for Texas. Gonzalez, acquired in a trade with the Chicago White Sox last week, has gone 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA over his last nine starts.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (9-11, 4.75 ERA) will make his 28th start and second in his career against the Rangers. In his last four starts, Teheran is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA, but he’s allowed 29 homers, second-most in the NL.