OAKLAND -- This is why manager Ron Washington wants Josh Hamilton in the lineup for day games. Hamilton may struggle at the plate when the sun is out, but Washington keeps pointing out that his All-Star outfielder can do more than just hit the ball to help his team win.Hamilton proved that on Saturday afternoon at Oakland Coliseum. He did have two singles, but it was his speed on the bases and his tremendous defensive ability in left field that allowed the Rangers to pull away to a 7-1 victory over the Athletics. "There's no doubt about it ... he brings more than just offense," Washington said. "He's a talented guy and today was one of those games that I was talking about." The Rangers won by six runs because they pulled away in the final two innings against the A's bullpen. But for seven innings, this was another brilliant pitching duel between Colby Lewis and fellow right-hander Trevor Cahill, and the big moment of the afternoon was the catch that Hamilton made in left field to end the bottom of the seventh. "That was the turning point of the game," Lewis said. "A huge play," Washington said. "You never know what that inning turns into if he doesn't catch that ball." Hamilton's play allowed the Rangers to hold onto a 2-1 lead, and they went on to their seventh win in nine games. They now have a three-game lead in the American League West after the Angels lost to the Blue Jays, 11-2. "My legs felt good today," Hamilton said. "Obviously, using my speed to get into scoring position and run down balls in the outfield, those are the things that I love to do." The Rangers ended up with 11 hits on the afternoon, and went 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Every player in the starting lineup had at least one hit. But Cahill had a no-hitter before Yorvit Torrealba singled with one out in the sixth. "We just tried to have good quality at-bats after good quality at-bats," Kinsler said. "We felt confident we could break out. Cahill had good stuff and was changing speeds on all his pitches. He was tough, but we were able to grind it out. The key was Colby throwing the ball the way he did and matching him pitch for pitch." This was the sixth time Lewis has opposed Cahill in the last two years. Cahill won the first four, but Lewis has won the last two. "It was a great game -- it seems like every time we match up, it's a close game," Lewis said. "He always throws well against us. He did a great job, but the big thing for me was not letting them get any momentum going." Lewis gave up a leadoff triple to Jemile Weeks in the first, then retired 17 straight hitters to keep the A's from scoring. The Texas starter was rewarded in the sixth, when an error by Weeks and a double by Kinsler gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The Rangers added a second run in the top of the seventh inning after Hamilton led off with single. Michael Young struck out but, with Nelson Cruz at the plate, Hamilton took second on a wild pitch. Cruz followed with a two-hop smash to A's third baseman Scott Sizemore, who knocked the ball down on a backhanded play. It rolled behind him and Hamilton broke for third. Cahill tried to cover as Sizemore tried to recover, but Hamilton made it with a head-first slide. "Once I saw the bobble -- given how far he was playing back -- I decided to go for it," Hamilton said. A double by Mike Napoli drove him home to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. They almost let it slip away in the bottom of the seventh, but Hamilton's defense saved it. Lewis took a two-hit shutout into the seventh, but gave up a one-out double to Josh Willingham. That was manager Ron Washington's cue to bring in reliever Darren Oliver. A double by David DeJesus scored Willingham, and Koji Uehara took over, striking out Conor Jackson. That brought up Ryan Sweeney and he hit a high fly to deep left. Kinsler saw the ball hit and had one thought. "Tie game," he said. Hamilton wasn't thinking, he was running. "I was playing shallow and toward the line," Hamilton said. "But he hit it pretty good. I just turned and went." Hamilton raced back onto the warning track and had to adjust like a football receiver on a fade route going for a ball thrown over the wrong shoulder. Hamilton, fighting the blue sky and bright sunshine, was able to make the catch as he tumbled on the warning track for the final out of the inning. "That's a big catch there," said A's manager Bob Melvin, whose team committed four errors on the afternoon. "It's the difference between good defense and bad defense. That was an unbelievable catch. The game was close there and we gave it away." The Rangers responded to the catch with three runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth. "Nothing Josh does on the field surprises me," Kinsler said. "He made a great catch. At the end of the game it was 7-1, and you can say we won big. But it was tight until the last two innings."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.