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Must C Clutch: Rangers squeeze to tie, walk-off

ARLINGTON -- Down by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Rangers found themselves in a situation they had not been in often recently -- needing to score runs late to overcome a deficit and win a ballgame. With some sharp execution, Texas did exactly that, scoring twice to win, 5-4, on Michael Young's walk-off single on Saturday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Rangers needed only one hit, Young's long fly ball that drove home the winning run, to score two runs in that final inning. The win brought the team to 2-33 on the season when trailing after eight innings.

"You just got to play baseball in the way it presents itself," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Great execution in that inning. Great execution."

That execution involved three Rangers, two of whom do not bunt often, laying down bunts on three consecutive pitches to plate one run on a suicide squeeze and bring the winning run to third.

"Whatever it takes," Young said. "We had three well-executed bunts, we caught a break on the [first] one, and we ran the bases aggressively after that. It worked out well. Obviously, we'd love to not make it as interesting, but we'll take a win any way we can."

It all started when Mike Napoli, who was pinch-hitting for Chris Davis against Blue Jays lefty Marc Rzepczynski, fell behind, 0-2, but battled back to work a walk.

"Once I got two strikes, I was just trying to hit a little single or blooper or something, you know, just trying to stay short and see the ball all the way to contact," Napoli said. "I didn't panic; I just knew it would be a tough at-bat from there. I was going to try to battle as much as I could, and fortunately it worked out."

Mitch Moreland was told to bunt Napoli over to second base. He got the bunt down, and Rzepczynski bobbled picking the ball up, which caused him to rush the throw over to first, pulling Adam Lind off the bag.

Just that quickly, the winning run for the Rangers was on base.

"The game said that's what we had to do," Washington said. "Moreland had to get him over to second and give ourselves a chance to at least tie the ballgame. He did it, beat it out at first base, and then [Ian Kinsler] came up there."

The Blue Jays brought in closer Jon Rauch to face Kinsler.

Washington said that Kinsler was going to have one opportunity to bunt, and after that pitch he would have let him swing away against the pulled in infield that would probably be charging.

"[Kinsler] did a great job," Young said. "That's the first pitch from a guy you haven't seen all night. A good closer. He made it look easy, but it's not easy to execute that bunt right there."

Washington knew that the next batter, Elvis Andrus, who is a skilled bunter, would be called on to execute a suicide squeeze with one out and Napoli barreling down the line at third base.

"That was already planned before Elvis went up there," Washington said. "He already knew that he was going to do that. He already knew he was going to do that."

After an intentional walk to Josh Hamilton, who went 3-for-4 with a triple, Young stepped to the plate.

Down, 1-2, to Rauch, Young hit what appeared to be a long flyout to right field.

Corey Patterson, who was brought in for the ninth as a defensive replacement, turned around multiple times and seemed to have trouble finding the ball.

Ultimately, it bounced at the foot of the wall, driving in Craig Gentry, who pinch-ran for Moreland, and made Young the most sought-after teammate on the Rangers.

"He just hit it over my head, hit right above my head, one-hopped the wall, that's what happened," Patterson said.

All this served to draw attention away from Rangers starter Matt Harrison, who was pitching well before running into trouble in the sixth inning.

The Blue Jays hit for the cycle in their first four at-bats of the inning.

J.P. Arencibia hit his third home run of the series to lead off the inning, then Yunel Escobar hit a double and Eric Thames roped a triple. After Jose Bautista's broken-bat RBI single, Harrison had allowed three runs in the inning before he had recorded an out.

"I ran into trouble in that sixth inning," Harrison said. "I feel like, three of the four batters I faced to start that inning, I made the pitch that I wanted to, they just hit the ball hard."

A double play and a flyout ended the inning, but the damage had been done, setting up the Rangers for their late-game heroics. Comments