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Beltre’s 3 homers power Rangers

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) ― This is what Adrian Beltre envisioned when he signed with Texas in the offseason. Balls jumping off his bat in October, the Rangers making another run for the pennant.

Beltre hit three straight home runs and the defending AL champions advanced again, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 in Game 4 Tuesday to win their playoff matchup.

Beltre put on a power show that few players in major league history have matched, helping Texas take the best-of-five series and ending the Rays’ remarkable run to the wild-card spot. The Rangers next play the Detroit Tigers-New York Yankees winner.

“From my point of view, Texas gave me the best chance to put a ring on my finger,” Beltre added, “and I am just two steps away from it. Hopefully that happens.”

Ian Kinsler led off the game for Texas by homering on the second pitch from rookie Jeremy Hellickson.

Then it was Beltre’s turn. He came into the game in a 1-for-11 slump in this series before breaking loose.

Maybe Beltre’s best day as a pro.

“I think besides my first big league hit, this is right up there,” said the slugger, who spent last season with the Boston Red Sox. He’s back in the postseason for the first time since 2004, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It was the seventh time a player has homered three times in a postseason game ― Adam Kennedy was the last to do it, for the Angels in 2002. Babe Ruth did it twice, while Reggie Jackson, George Brett and Bob Robertson also are on the list.
Texas Rangers players celebrate their 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4. (AP-Yonhap News)
Texas Rangers players celebrate their 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4. (AP-Yonhap News)

Beltre connected in his first three at-bats. Given a chance to tie the big league record of four homers in a game, he hit a routine flyout in the eighth against Wade Davis.

“I was just trying to get a run there. Hit a line drive somewhere, maybe in the gap because they were trying to come back. ... Winning the game was more important for me than to hit the (fourth) homer,” Beltre said.

Neftali Feliz gave up a run in the ninth inning before closing for his third save of the series, preserving the victory for Matt Harrison.

Texas won for the fifth straight time on the road overall ― all at Tropicana Field ― in the opening round. The Rangers eliminated Tampa Bay in five games last year, winning three times in the Rays’ home stadium.

Beltre hit solo shots off Hellickson in the second and fourth innings, and added another solo drive against Game 1 winner Matt Moore in the seventh.

Phillies 3, Cardinals 2

Pinch-hitter Ben Francisco and closer Ryan Madson made manager Charlie Manuel’s moves look smart, and the Philadelphia Phillies held off the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 Tuesday for a 2-1 lead in their NL playoff series.

Francisco batted for pitcher Cole Hamels and broke open a scoreless game with a three-run homer in the seventh inning.

Madson earned a five-out save. He induced a double play to escape in the eighth and gave up a run in the ninth before nailing down his first multi-inning save of the year.

The Phillies, favored to win it all after a franchise-record 102-win season, can finish off the wild-card Cardinals in Game 4 Wednesday, with Roy Oswalt opposing Edwin Jackson.

Yankees 10, Tigers 1

Curtis Granderson made two spectacular catches against his former team and A.J. Burnett came through when the Yankees needed him most, leading New York past the Detroit Tigers 10-1 Tuesday night to send their AL playoff series back to the Bronx for a decisive Game 5.

Derek Jeter bounced back from a game-ending strikeout Monday, putting the Yankees ahead to stay with a two-run double in the third inning. Granderson also had an RBI double and New York broke it open with six runs in the eighth.

Shaky all season, Burnett started only because Game 1 was suspended by rain Friday. He was in trouble in the first after loading the bases on walks but Granderson made a leaping grab of Don Kelly’s line drive in center field, preventing at least three runs.

D-backs 8, Brewers 1

Paul Goldschmidt hit a grand slam and tied a franchise postseason record with five RBIs, fellow Arizona rookie Josh Collmenter befuddled Milwaukee batters again and the Diamondbacks stayed alive in the NL division series with a 8-1 rout of the Brewers on Tuesday night.

Goldschmidt, who has made big hits a habit since he was called up from Double-A Mobile on Aug. 1, gave Arizona a 7-1 lead in the fifth with a two-out, opposite-field homer to right off Shaun Marcum after Miguel Montero had been intentionally walked. Montero drove in two runs with a single and double.
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