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Hamilton hammers his 25th homer of the year

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers gave Martin Perez plenty of run support in his first big league start. And, once again, most of it came in one inning.

The Rangers capitalized on a pair of A's errors in the fifth inning, scoring five unearned runs, highlighted by Josh Hamilton's 25th homer. Perez earned his first Major League victory as Texas became the first club to reach 50 wins with a 7-2 victory over the Oakland A's at Rangers Ballpark on Saturday.

"He did an outstanding job for it being his first time out there," manager Ron Washington said. "He had great mound presence. He threw enough changeups to get them off his fastball. He spotted his fastball well down in the zone. He competed. He was very good."

Oakland third baseman Brandon Inge bobbled a ground ball off the bat of Nelson Cruz to begin the fifth-inning rally. Cruz was tagged out in a rundown between third base and home later in the inning, but that left two men in scoring position for Ian Kinsler, who dropped a hit behind Inge to drive in Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli, giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead against Tommy Milone.

"We don't expect to have huge innings, but we expect to score and to put pressure on the other team consistently throughout the game," Kinsler said. "Once or twice a game, that can possibly turn into a big inning."

"It's a tricky infield they have there. It's not exactly the most ideal infield," Inge said. "They're a good team, no matter what. You make mistakes on that team, and it's going to be hard to stay with them."

Shortstop Brandon Hicks then bobbled a ground ball hit by Elvis Andrus, and Hamilton took advantage of the miscue, delivering a three-run homer 409 feet over the center-field wall for a 6-2 Rangers lead. It marked the fifth straight game in which Texas scored at least four runs in an inning.

"He threw me a cutter and it ran across the middle of the plate, running toward the outer third of the plate. I hit it square." Hamilton said. "It's good to get those types of hits, those home runs. It helps remind you that you don't have to pull the ball to hit it out of the ballpark."

That was more than enough support for Perez, who gave up two runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking one. He threw 103 pitches, 59 for strikes. The A's took a 1-0 lead in the second on a home run from Chris Carter, who also homered in the ninth inning of Friday's game. Carter doubled and scored in the fourth, but his teammates didn't do much else against Perez, who left to a standing ovation in the sixth.

"It was a great emotion because I knew it was a full house," Perez said. "There was a couple pitches that they were able to hit, but my sinker and changeup were working well. I feel happy with my outing."

Yoshinori Tateyama and Michael Kirkman combined for 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Like Perez, Tateyama and Kirkman began the season with Triple-A Round Rock and were called up because of an injury to a Rangers pitcher.

"They've done a great job with the organization," Kirkman said. "Even now, there's still guys down there in Triple-A and Double-A that are really good that will pitch up here one day."

Hamilton added to his Major League-leading total with his 73 RBI by driving in Craig Gentry with a single in the seventh. Hamilton is the fastest player to 25 home runs in Rangers history, matching his home run total from last year. He finished June with four homers after hitting 12 in May.

"If he stays healthy, he'll have periods when he's down, and he'll have periods when we can jump on his back," Washington said. "He's popped up huge for us in these games."

Hamilton also became the first player in Rangers history to hit 25 home runs and drive in 73 runs in the team's first 79 games. The last player for any team to accomplish that feat was Albert Pujols in 2009. Hamilton is also the fifth player in team history with four 25-homer seasons.

"I like RBIs more than I like home runs," Hamilton said. "I haven't tried to hit home runs. The biggest thing is trying to hit the ball hard, not far. It works."

The win was the Rangers' fifth straight, and they have won 13 of their past 15 games. With the Angels' loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday, the Rangers extended their American League West lead to 6 1/2 games. They finished June with a 19-9 mark and hold the Major League's best record at 50-29.

With 46,711 in attendance on Saturday, the Rangers extending their record to 24 sellouts this season.

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