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March 27, 2012

Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli help Rangers rally past Padres

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Mike Napoli hit his first two homers of the spring, and Ian Kinsler went 3 for 3 and scored three runs as the Rangers won a second straight game at Surprise Stadium, 10-9 over San Diego on Tuesday.

Michael Kirkman had the best day on the mound for the Rangers as he continues to complete for a spot in the bullpen. He tossed two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk, after Yoshinori Tateyama had been tagged for four runs in two innings.

The Padres swatted three homers off Tateyama, who said that his fastball was down in velocity. Manager Ron Washington, though, said that he liked the way Tateyama continued to battled and turn in his work.

Robbie Ross allowed his first runs of the spring. He issued two in two innings as the Rangers' starter. He continues to be a strong candidate for the left-handed relief job. Kirkman and Neil Cotts, who had a scoreless eighth inning, are also candidates.

Napoli said that he still dealing with bouts at the plate where his timing isn’t right and he isn’t able to made solid contact. He felt good, though, against Cory Luebke, who surrendered homers to Napoli in the second and fourth inning.

“I had a good day today, but I need to start repeating my at-bats and be able to square up some balls,” said Napoli, who is hitting .320 this spring. “I go up there one time and feel good, and the next time I don’t feel the greatest.”

Kinsler was a pest at the plate and on the bases, and is leading a two-game renaissance by the offense after a hitters meeting Monday. The main topic was to start doing whatever the game asks.

Kinsler took it to heart. He had a stolen base and also scored from third on a grounder to third, running after third baseman Jedd Gyorko threw across the diamond.

“I’ll probably have sore legs tomorrow,” Kinsler said. “It’s time to get into playing your style of baseball. You can only play station to station and not get in the flow of the game for so long.”

The winning run scored on a wild pitch in the ninth inning after Joey Butler had tied the game with a one-out triple. The Rangers led 8-7 entering the last inning, but minor-leaguer Johan Yan issued two unearned runs.

Shorstop Elvis Andrus left the game after the second inning with tightness in his right hip flexor. Manager Ron Washington said that it's a minor injury and that Andrus should be back Thursday after a day off Wednesday.

-- Jeff Wilson

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