LAA@TEX: Cruz launches a towering home run to left

ARLINGTON -- Nelson Cruz entered Sunday night's game leading the Rangers with a .500 batting average, 10 hits and four RBIs in the first five games. He briefly moved down in the lineup, hitting seventh Saturday, but homered in the ninth inning and found himself hitting sixth again Sunday.

"It's always nice to see Cruz swing the bat because he's such a big part of my lineup," manager Ron Washington said. "He's one of the guys that we're going to depend on to drive in the runs. It's nice that he's feeling pretty good about himself and he's going there and showing it."

Cruz spent much of Spring Training playing in the World Baseball Classic for the gold-medal winning Dominican Republic team. He hit .324 (10-for-33) in eight WBC games and said upon his return to the Rangers that he expected the experience to help him at the plate early in the season, as it did when he played for his home country in 2009. That year, he hit three home runs in the Rangers' first five games.

Cruz also started the season on a hot streak in 2010 and 2011, homering four times in the first five games each season.

Pierzynski gets first rest

LAA@TEX: Pierzynski opens the scoring with RBI triple

ARLINGTON -- For the first time in six games this season, A.J. Pierzynski was not behind the plate as the Rangers' catcher, a role that went to backup Geovany Soto instead.

Manager Ron Washington said it was time to give the 36-year-old Pierzynski a rest, though Pierzynski hits left-handed and the Rangers were facing righty Jered Weaver. Pierzynski also caught Sunday night starter Yu Darvish's almost-perfect game on Tuesday.

"He caught everybody, caught every game up to this point, and yesterday was a lot of pitches," Washington said.

Soto, though, caught nearly all of Darvish's starts after arriving from the Cubs in a trade-deadline deal. Darvish compiled a 2.35 ERA and a 5-1 record over his final eight starts, all with Soto catching.

That battery could be less common this season.

"A.J. is the starting catcher," Washington said. "When Soto plays, I'll let him know. He's going to play, but you'll see A.J. get most of the time."

Worth noting

• Washington's pregame observations of Josh Hamilton, who entered Sunday hitting 1-for-20 with 10 strikeouts (0-for-12 with with four strikeouts in two games against Texas): "He's a rhythm hitter. His rhythm is a little off. And when he is on a pitch, he's missing it. … When he's got it going, it looks beautiful. When he doesn't have it going -- y'all have seen it before."

• Rookie Leonys Martin was in the lineup at center field again Sunday, the first time he has played in back-to-back games this season. Martin has been alternating with Craig Gentry, who hit .429 (3-for-7) entering Sunday, while Martin was 1-for-10.