Rangers walk off in 11th on Blalock's hit
Slugger doubles in winning run; Hamilton smashes homer
ARLINGTON -- Elvis Andrus is just a rookie, but he's already starting to understand what the Rangers are capable of offensively, even down by one run in the 11th inning."After you see Michael Young get on base and Josh Hamilton walk, you start feeling it in your body," Andrus said. "You start feeling it that you can get the win, you feel that we can come back right there." Andrus was right, and Hank Blalock turned that gut feeling into something different. Blalock whipped his teammates to a state of dog-pile ecstasy by ripping a double deep off the bullpen wall in right-center to chase home two runs and give the Rangers an exhilarating 6-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners at the Ballpark in Arlington on Wednesday. The Rangers, after bleeding away an unearned run in the top of the 11th, were down, 5-4, before rallying for their 13th victory in their past 18 games. "Wow ... what a ballgame," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That was a good one," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "That was fun." Young, whose throwing error in the top of the 11th had led to the unearned run, started the 11th-inning rally against Mariners closer Brandon Morrow with a line-drive single to right field. "No, I wasn't thinking about redemption," Young said. "I knew we had made things more complicated by giving up that run, but I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and get on base." He did. Then he stole second. That left first base open, and Hamilton was able to work a walk from Morrow, who was making just his second appearance since coming off the disabled list last weekend. Morrow was able to get Andruw Jones on a short fly to center, bringing up Blalock. At that point, the Rangers were just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position on the night. "Maybe we were 1-for-11, but we were still getting them out there," Washington said. Blalock started off the at-bat by taking a 96-mph fastball that was too high. "Anytime a guy has a plus, plus fastball, you don't want to chase it up in the zone," Blalock said. "I was focused on making sure he got it down." Morrow did with the next pitch, and Blalock crushed it deep to right-center, well beyond center fielder Franklin Gutierrez and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki. "I thought it was a good pitch, a fastball down," Morrow said. "He's a good fastball hitter. He went down and caught it out in front." "I thought it was gone," Kinsler said. "He hit it very good ... he flushed it. I thought it was over the wall. I was almost out on the field. When it hit the wall, we had to start holding each other back." The ball hit the top of the wall. Gutierrez took the carom and threw the ball to second baseman Jose Lopez, but there was no relay home. Hamilton's speed was too much, and he slid in behind Young with the game-winning run. There was a brief celebration at home plate, and then everybody headed at toward second base to mob Blalock. Kinsler was so excited, he almost took Young's head off with a joyous headlock. "I was trying to get to the pile, and he kept dragging me down," Young said. "I don't remember what I was doing," Kinsler confessed. "I get so excited that I black out." The Rangers remembered one tradition. Blalock was treated with the traditional beer shower -- normally reserved for walk-off home runs -- in the clubhouse afterward. It was the fifth game-winning hit of his career and the first since an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Athletics on April 25, 2006. "My first beer shower," Blalock said. "It feels great. We were frustrated as a ballclub early in the game. We kept leaving guys on base. But we did a good job of grinding it out, putting it behind us and focusing on our next at-bat." Blalock's big hit made a winner out of C.J. Wilson, who pitched two tough innings to earn his second victory of the season. Wilson faced runners at the corners and one out in the 10th before getting Ken Griffey Jr. to hit into an inning-ending double play. Wilson, after Young's throwing error, did give up an RBI double to Wladimir Balentien in the 11th but retired the next two hitters to keep it a one-run game. It could have been worse, but catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia made several outstanding blocks on pitches in the dirt that kept things from getting out of control. "C.J. really fought hard," Washington said. "He didn't have his best stuff, and tonight he really battled to get them out. He has nothing to hang his head about." Starter Brandon McCarthy went seven innings in his longest outing with the Rangers. He gave up four runs, all coming across on home runs by Adrian Beltre, Kenji Johjima and Russell Branyan. The Rangers trailed, 3-0, going into the bottom of the fourth but scored once that inning on an RBI single by Saltalamacchia. Hamilton then tied it with a two-run home run in the fourth off Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn. Branyan's home run in the sixth allowed the Mariners to regain the lead, but the Rangers tied it in the bottom of the inning on a single by Marlon Byrd and a triple by Andrus. "We did a great job fighting tonight," Blalock said. "We got down early and did a great job of grinding it out. It was a nice win."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.