Nelson Cruz led off the 11th inning with a homer on the first pitch thrown by Tim Wakefield, and AL West-leading Texas capped a 10-9 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
"Wakefield always throws the knuckleball. … Especially the first pitch, he always tries to throw the first strike," Cruz said. "So I just tried to tee him up."
Cruz's 16th homer of the season disappeared deep into the left-field seats after the expected knuckleball from Wakefield (3-9), the seventh Boston reliever.
The Rangers' biggest comeback victory of the season came in the first game since the ownership group led by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg officially took over the team. Ryan was absent, but Greenberg was among the happiest people in the park.
As Cruz approached home plate, he flipped his batting helmet to the side and jumped on the plate in the middle of the mob of teammates waiting for him there.
"Nellie is a great athlete. He can get it done anytime," Josh Hamilton said. "It seems when the pressure's on, he thrives in these situations. I'd love to see him play in the playoffs."
The Rangers have an 8 1/2-game lead in the AL West over the Los Angeles Angels.
While Cruz won the game, Hamilton is a certain MVP candidate.
Hamilton had four more hits to raise his majors-best average to .362 and scored four times, including in the eighth when he raced home from second base on Vladimir Guerrero's infield hit for a 9-all tie after the Rangers had trailed by six runs earlier in the game. There were also two highlight-reel catches in center field.
"I'm tired," Hamilton said, with a chuckle. "I feel confident at the plate right now, not trying to do so much. That's what I told Nellie before the last at-bat."
Darren O'Day (4-2) worked a perfect 11th inning against Boston's Nos. 2-4 hitters, extending a team record with his 29th consecutive scoreless appearance. His stretch of 26 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings is the longest active streak in the majors.
A day earlier, Major League Baseball formally approved the sale of the team from Tom Hicks to the 18-investor group led by Greenberg and Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher and team president. The new owners immediately implemented lower prices for concessions, parking and merchandise.
Best of all for the second consecutive sellout at Rangers Ballpark was the comeback and Cruz's game-winning blast.
"That's a guy that's swung the bat very well against us. We were in a situation where there was nothing else to do," manager Terry Francona said. "Wake was going to pitch 'til we won or lost. The good news is he won't be tired."
Wakefield left the Red Sox' clubhouse without talking to reporters.
J.D. Drew hit two of Boston's five solo home runs, which included three in a row in a seven-run fourth that put the Red Sox up 8-2.
Drew's second homer gave Boston a 9-6 lead in the seventh before Hamilton help the Rangers finish off their comeback. The biggest deficit they had overcome to win was four runs.
Hamilton led off the Texas seventh with a single, went to third on a one-out double by Cruz and scored on David Murphy's sacrifice fly. Bengie Molina then hit a liner to right that Drew misplayed, though it was ruled an RBI double instead of an error.
An inning later, Hamilton had a two-out double before Daniel Bard's first pitch to Guerrero was high and tight. Guerrero gave a menacing stare toward the mound and a couple of pitches later hit a ball up the middle that second baseman Jed Lowrie fielded. But the throw couldn't get Guerrero sliding headfirst into the bag and Hamilton kept running.
David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and Drew hit consecutive homers in a seven-pitch span to start the fourth to chase Tommy Hunter. Boston added four more runs in the inning off Scott Feldman for an 8-2 lead. Lowrie had already homered an inning earlier.
Boston hadn't had three consecutive homers since April 22, 2007, when Drew was part of four in a row at home against the New York Yankees.
Texas pulled to 8-6 after three homers off Josh Beckett, including back-to-back shots by Michael Young and Hamilton starting the fifth.
It was Hamilton's 25th homer, to go along with 37 doubles and 79 RBIs.
Lowrie, who led off the third with homer, was robbed by Hamilton of another extra-base hit to start the sixth. Hamilton sprinted toward the warning track, leaped and in mid-air had to reach back with his glove to make the grab. He also took a hit away from Marco Scutaro in the third with a lunging grab, holding on when his momentum caused him to fall down.
Rangers rookie Mitch Moreland hit his first career homer, a two-run shot in the fourth.
Murphy had a double and a triple and is hitting .448 (13 for 29) in an eight-game winning streak. … Beckett's ERA rose to 6.51 after giving up six runs and 10 hits in five innings. He allowed seven runs in 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Yankees on Sunday. … Boston has 13 homers the past four games.
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