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KC@TEX: Rangers hit five homers in the game

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had to cancel their Good Friday postgame fireworks show because of the high winds and dry conditions in and around Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

That seemed to be the prudent thing to do. The blistering south winds had already allowed the Rangers to put on quite an offensive display and do some serious damage to the Royals' pitching staff.

The Rangers hit a season-high five home runs, including four that sailed out with the wind to right field, and pounded the Royals, 11-6, before 45,769 fans at the Ballpark. The Rangers had 11 hits, including nine for extra bases, also tying a season high. Michael Young had three hits and now has a 12-game hitting streak.

"This was just a great all-around night," Rangers outfielder David Murphy said. "The ball was flying around. It was fun."

Murphy was one of five Rangers hitters to go deep, one in each inning from the third to the seventh. Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland also hit home runs. Moreland, a left-handed hitter, was the only one who left the ballpark to left-center. The others took full advantage of the wind that blew in from the south, swirled around the park and then turned into the fabled jet stream heading out to right field.

"This was the best I've ever seen the ball fly here," Napoli said.

"I don't think I've ever seen it that good for the hitters," Beltre said.

But manager Ron Washington pointed out, "It was there for everybody. We hit some of those balls hard. We played the elements and it worked for us."

The Rangers had hit just four home runs in their previous nine games before hitting five on Friday. Royals left-handed starter Jeff Francis, who allowed six runs in four-plus innings, gave up two of the home runs.

"They were much more proficient at utilizing the jet stream than we were today, for sure," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "They actually hit a couple of pretty good pitches off of Jeff, but the majority of the night [the pitches to Rangers hitters] were up. This is a tremendous fly-ball-hitting team, they've got a lot of pop, a lot of power. They look to do that, they look to get balls up and drive it into that right-center-field gap and they do it really, really well,"

Rangers pitchers had to deal with the same conditions and Derek Holland survived despite one bad inning. His teammates staked him to a 5-0 lead before the Royals scored five runs in the fourth. The big blow was a three-run home run by catcher Brayan Pena, a right-handed hitter who also cleared the fence in right field.

But that was the only home run of the night for the Royals, and Holland responded to that outburst by throwing three scoreless innings. He is now 3-1 with a 4.39 ERA after four starts.

"When something like that happens, you don't dwell on it," Holland said. "I've got to keep making my pitches and keep the damage to a minimum."

Rangers pitchers figured out one way to keep the Royals from putting the ball into the jet stream. Holland and three relievers struck out 12 on this night, another season high for the Rangers. Royals pitchers struck out just four, leaving them more suspectible to giving up something in the jet stream.

"It was unbelievable," Pena said. "We're not going to make excuses because excuses are for losers, but it was one of those days where it was blowing everywhere. It was very tough out there."

But this is the approach Washington wants his team to take at the plate no matter how the wind is blowing. His latest catch phrase for his hitters is "use the big part of the field," which means don't try to pull everything but hit the ball in the outfield gaps and go the other way. The Rangers did just that on Friday night.

"We did a good job of keeping the ball in the big part of the yard," Washington said. "If we went up there trying to pull [Francis], you would have seen a lot of 5-3 and 6-3 plays. We made him throw the ball over the plate and hit to the big part of the field. Not too many guys are going to let us pull the ball."

Francis admitted that he was trying to beat the wind by getting the Rangers to hit the ball on the ground.

"I didn't do a very good job of pitching," Francis said. "Balls can go in the air and they can get blown out or whatever, but my approach is to get guys to hit balls on the ground and I didn't do that very well."

The wind certainly made it easier for the Rangers to drive the ball to right field.

"With a left-hander and all our right-handed hitters, the way to go is up the middle," Napoli said. "We got some pitches that we were able to drive the other way. It's not like we all said let's try to hit the ball the other way. A lot of guys on this team just have a good approach of looking to hit the other way and reacting inside." Comments