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TEX@TB: Napoli launches a three-run homer

ST. PETERSBURG -- This was a good way for the Rangers to celebrate Memorial Day: start turning around some dreadful road numbers.

They need to because Monday night's game against the Rays marked the beginning of a stretch where the Rangers play 17 of 20 away from Arlington. The Rangers started it off right by jumping on starter Wade Davis for seven runs in the first three innings and holding on for an 11-5 victory at Tropicana Field.

The Rangers were 9-14 on the road coming into this game but scored two in the first and five in the third inning to give starter Derek Holland a 7-0 lead. They totaled 20 hits, four of them homers, two by Mike Napoli, plus five doubles.

With their sixth win in their last eight games, the first-place Rangers remain one game in front of the Angels in the American League West.

"It was just great to swing the bats and get a nice lead and give Holland a cushion to work with," outfielder David Murphy said. "To win a game against a solid team ... we're going to be on the road a bunch and we haven't played well on the road. It's great to build some momentum in the right direction."

The win snapped the Rangers' four-game regular-season losing streak at Tropicana Field. But they actually have a four-game winning streak here after taking all three games played at Tropicana during the American League Division Series last October.

"They just outplayed us tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They played well. They hit the ball well. Their starting pitcher got them deeper into the game."

The Rangers' four more home runs gave them 15 in their last four games. Prior to that, they had hit three in 10 games. They have also hit at least four home runs in three straight games for the first time in club history.

All four home runs came from the bottom of the Rangers order as Mitch Moreland, Napoli and Endy Chavez combined to go 8-for-15 with seven runs scored and eight RBIs.

"Wow, we looked like the top of the lineup tonight," Chavez said.

Napoli, starting at catcher, had a three-run home run in the second inning and a solo shot in the sixth. He also had an RBI double in the eighth and is now 7-for-12 with four home runs and eight RBIs in his last three games. This all came after he went 14 starts with no home runs and just four RBIs.

"I just threw all the mechanics out. ... Just seeing the ball and hitting it," Napoli said. "I have been going up there thinking about getting my foot down or getting my hands up rather than playing the game. I'm trying to get my mind right and keep it clear."

The Rangers came into the game with the lowest slugging percentage on the road in the American League and finished with the nine extra-base hits.

"We know the results haven't been good on the road lately, but we're taking the same approach," Michael Young said. "At the same time, we do need to make some adjustments and play better on the road. But if we just stay after it and play the game hard, things will bounce our way."

Elvis Andrus began a three-hit night with a leadoff double in the first and scored on a one-out double by Josh Hamilton off of Davis. Singles by Young and Adrian Beltre brought home Hamilton and made it 2-0.

Napoli's three-run home run in the third inning made it 5-0 and Chavez followed that with a home run to right field. It was his second home run in three days. He entered the season with 19 in 2,237 Major League at-bats.

Moreland hit his seventh home run of the season in the fourth. He finished 2-for-4 and is now hitting .349 in his last 19 games. Napoli's second home run came in the sixth, giving him five multihomer games in his career.

"One through nine, I can't say enough about what we all did," Moreland said. "It seemed like everybody stepped up at some point and got a key hit. This lineup gets going like this, we're going to be tough to stop."

Holland ended up going just 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on five hits and five walks while striking out seven. He threw 112 pitches and four of the five walks came after he was given the 7-0 lead. Holland had gone six straight starts without a decision before earning his first victory since April 22. He is now 4-1 with a 4.96 ERA on the season.

"To be honest, I'm OK with the outcome, but I'm upset with the walks," Holland said. "Too many free passes. I'm a better pitcher than that and I can execute better than that. I shouldn't have that many walks. I wasn't getting lackadaisical, I was just falling behind hitters and throwing too many pitches."

Holland left with two out in the sixth after giving up a solo home run to Ben Zobrist and a two-out, three-run shot to Justin Ruggiano that cut the Rangers lead to 9-5. Mark Lowe took over and the Rays loaded the bases on two infield singles and a walk. That brought up B.J. Upton, the Rays cleanup hitter, as the tying run, but Lowe struck him out to end the threat.

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