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LAA@TEX: Cruz drives in six against the Angels

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington dropped Nelson Cruz from fifth to seventh in the batting order on Friday night. Two home runs, four hits and six RBI later, it looked like a brilliant move.

Cruz had a breakout night at the plate, David Murphy got to experience his first curtain call and Derek Holland received a standing ovation from 38,256 for his pitching as the Rangers opened a three-game series against the Angels with an 11-7 victory on Friday night at the Ballpark in Arlington.

The win snapped both the Rangers' three-game losing streak and the Angels' six-game winning streak. The Rangers are back to three games in front of the Angels in the American League West.

"It's good to have a good offensive night, especially against the Angels," Cruz said. "But it doesn't matter if you have a good offense if the pitcher doesn't do his job. Holland threw like he usually throws, and that's why we came out with a victory."

"We need every one of these we can possibly get," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We came out swinging the bat and Derek threw the ball well. It was a good game for us."

Cruz was hitting .208 with two home runs and six RBIs in his previous 19 games and Washington was trying to get him to relax, hence the move to the seventh spot. Something apparently clicked.

"I'm not going to take credit for that," Washington said. "Maybe if I left him where he was, he would have done the same thing. But it's nice to see him bust out because he's a guy we need."

Going against Angels 13-game winner Dan Haren, Cruz put the Rangers ahead in the second with a two-run double. He hit the first of his two home runs in the fourth to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead in the fourth and Murphy followed with the second grand slam of his career in the fifth.

That prompted the crowd to ask Murphy for a curtain call and also brought Haren's night to an end. It was only the second grand slam Haren has allowed in his career and only the third time this season that he has allowed multiple home runs in a game.

"I don't know if he wasn't on, or our offense showed up tonight," Murphy said. "I think we took some frustration out tonight and played a great game, but it's going to be a battle all weekend. We did a great job to start off the series; hopefully we can take it in to tomorrow."

Cruz added a three-run home run in the sixth after an RBI double by Mitch Moreland. That gave Cruz six RBIs for the night, the third time this season that Cruz has driven in at least six in a game.

The last time was July 22, when he drove in eight runs in a 12-2 victory over the Blue Jays. Cruz batted sixth in that game, the last time he was lower than fifth in the Rangers' order prior to Friday.

"Staying in the lineup is the only thing that matters," Cruz said. "I don't like the decision [to be dropped in the order], but the only thing that I care about is to be in the lineup."

Holland went 6 2/3 innings and didn't allow a run until the top of the seventh, when he gave up a leadoff double to Vernon Wells and a two-out single to Bobby Wilson. That brought his night to an end, and he walked off the mound to a standing ovation. He is 12-5 with a 4.30 ERA on the season.

Rangers starters had allowed 25 runs over their past 25 innings -- including five in 3 1/3 innings from Holland on Sunday -- and needed a strong outing from somebody.

"The main thing was to get some momentum turned around and our side by making pitches," Holland said. "We had some rough outings with our starters and hopefully this is the start of something."

The biggest problem with the Rangers lately is they have been falling behind by big margins early in the game. They had been outscored, 24-5, in the first four innings in their previous five games before Friday.

Holland also got into trouble early when he allowed leadoff singles to Peter Bourjos and Bobby Abreu in the first. This time, the Rangers starter didn't let the inning get away from him.

Holland first struck out Howard Kendrick and then Torii Hunter on a full-count slider with the runners going on the pitch. Catcher Mike Napoli threw out Bourjos at third to complete an inning-ending double play.

"That was a huge pivotal momentum," Washington said. "That was huge. Once again they were on the verge of jumping ahead right away and Derek was able to make his pitches."

The Angels scored six runs late against Yoshinori Tateyama and Mark Lowe but had too far to go to catch up.

"We can score runs," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Obviously, it's not the type of game we want to play. We have to pitch and make plays on the defensive side. Tonight we struggled in a number of areas." Comments