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MIN@TEX: Rangers score like crazy with 20 runs

ARLINGTON -- The ones you had to feel sorry for were the flag girls in center field. They didn't sign up for this, not running around this many times in 100-degree heat after every Rangers scoring play.

By the fifth inning, it was unclear who would hold up longer: the Twins' bullpen or the Rangers' flag girls. Both were almost completely spent after five innings. At that point, the Rangers had 22 hits, the most by an American League team this season.

The Rangers scored 18 runs in the first five innings and went on to a 20-6 victory over the Twins at the Ballpark in Arlington on Monday. The Rangers had lost seven of their last eight games to the Twins before bludgeoning their way to victory in the first of a four-game series.

"We came out with a lot of energy," infielder Michael Young said. "Obviously you never expect a game like this. When you have a game like this, you remember what it's like to be on the other side. We have a lot of respect for the Twins. They are a very professional team. We expect a tough game tomorrow."

The Rangers' offensive avalanche came one night after they managed just four singles in a 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays and left-hander Brett Cecil on Sunday. This time, Twins starter Nick Blackburn was gone in the third inning after allowing nine runs.

"Think we were mad?" outfielder Josh Hamilton said after the Rangers scored the most runs in a Major League game this season.

"Those guys never let one game affect what they do the next day," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We got on Blackburn early, never let him get settled and just kept coming.

The Rangers finished with 27 hits, their most at the Ballpark in Arlington and the second-most in club history. They had 29 in a 30-3 win over the Orioles on Aug. 22, 2007, in Baltimore. The Twins used six pitchers and ended with All-Star first baseman Michael Cuddyer on the mound in the eighth. He pitched a scoreless inning, one of just two for the Twins on the night.

"It was fun," Hamilton said. "Obviously you're not going to do it all the time, but when you do it, it's fun. It seemed like everybody fed off each other. You have these games once in a while and you just prefer to be on our end rather than the other end."

While the Rangers were pounding Twins pitching, the Indians rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning against Angels closer Jordan Walden for a 3-2 win in Cleveland. That allowed the Rangers to increase their lead to four games over the second-place Angels in the AL West.

The Rangers scored at least three runs in each of the first five innings. They are only the third team since 1900 to do that. Philadelphia did so in beating the Pirates, 23-8, on July 13, 1900, and the Athletics did it to the Rangers in a 19-5 victory on Sept. 29, 1991.

"The first five innings went like a ZIP code," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "So that tells you how it went for us. I think that's somewhere in New York, 33354. That's not good when you have a ZIP code for the first five innings. We'll leave it at that."

Rangers starter Derek Holland had already entered the game with the third-highest average run support (6.60) of any pitcher in the American League. He will have the highest on Tuesday morning with his offensive teammates averaging 7.55 runs per nine innings for him.

"That's amazing," he said.

Holland was needed for just six innings and he allowed one run on five hits to get the victory. Holland, who struck out four and did not walk a batter, is 9-4 with a 4.43 ERA on the season.

"My focus was easy to keep," Holland said. "It's just every time I went back to the mound I felt like I had to get loose again. The main thing was to throw strikes and make sure the momentum was in our favor. I can't say enough about the offense."

The top of the Rangers' order was especially destructive early. Through five innings, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Hamilton and Young had come to the plate five times each. At that point, they were a combined 12-for-19 with seven runs, two home runs and 12 RBIs.

"Everybody had the same goal, and that was be aggressive," Andrus said. "We have had a hard time against their pitchers before and we wanted to attack. That was our focus: Be aggressive with pitches in the zone. We did a pretty good job."

By the top of the sixth inning, Hamilton and Young were done for the night. David Murphy was playing left field and Omar Quintanilla had replaced Young at second base. Quintanilla had an RBI triple in the seventh and scored on a double by Nelson Cruz to put the Rangers at the 20-run mark for only the fifth time in history.

The Rangers had seven batters with three or more hits. Kinsler, Cruz and Mike Napoli each had four while Young, Andrus, Endy Chavez and Mitch Moreland each had three. That's the first time that's happened in club history.

The Rangers have now won the first game in their last 11 series. After being swept in a three-game series against the Yankees June 14-16, the Rangers beat the Braves, 6-2, in Atlanta to start this impressive trend. Beginning with that victory, the Rangers have won 23 of their last 33 games.

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