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March 24, 2011

Rangers' split squads split two Thursday

Nelson Cruz hit a grand slam and drove in six runs in a 15-13 victory over Cincinnati on Thursday afternoon in Goodyear, and Josh Hamilton hit a first-inning solo homer and Neftali Feliz pitched around trouble in his first relief inning of the spring in a 7-4 loss to San Diego late Thursday in Surprise.

Cruz went 3 for 4 and has raised his average from .143 to .226 in the past week. His homer and a double later in the game were both to the opposite field -- an indication that he is finding a comfort level at the plate.

"When he's hitting the ball to right field, you know he's staying on the ball," manager Ron Washington said. "Today he put on an exhibition."

Hamilton's homer was his second of the spring, to straightaway center field. Brett Tomko, Feliz and Pedro Strop pitched four scoreless innings in relief of starter Dave Bush, who had replaced Feliz earlier in the day after he was moved back to the closer's role. Minor-leaguer Beau Jones allowed allowed three runs in the 10th.

Tomko continues to make a push to be the long reliever in a spring that started with him in minor-league camp without an invitation. He throw 23 pitches/16 strikes in two scoreless innings.

"He's got four pitches he can throw over the plate," Washington said. "He's throwing the ball well."

-- Jeff Wilson

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