By The Associated Press

CLEVELAND – Josh Hamilton is heating up.

The timing couldn’t be better for the Texas Rangers.

Hamilton had four hits Thursday, including the go-ahead two-run double in the third inning, leading Texas to a 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The All-Star outfielder hit .486 with a homer and eight RBIs on the Rangers’ 10-game trip, raising his average from .220 to .260. More importantly, he’s hitting his stride just as Boston comes to town for a three-game series with major playoff implications.

“He looked liked Josh Hamilton to me,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “He’s spraying the ball everywhere. As long as he’s spraying the ball all over the ballpark, that’s Josh.”

The Rangers, who went 5-5 on the trip, trail the Red Sox by a half-game in the American League wild-card race.

“We always look forward to Boston,” Hamilton said. “They’ve been good for a few years. Everybody gets fired up for the guys who’ve been there the last couple of years.”

“It’s an important series,” Washington added. “We want to win the series, just like they want to win the series. They know how to win. They’ve been around. They’re not going anyplace.”

Scott Feldman (12-4) worked out of trouble several times after allowing a first-inning run in winning his third straight start. The right-hander gave up one run in six innings and struck out six to improve to 8-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 10 road starts this season.

Royals 5, Twins 4
MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Twins started this week with hopes of closing ground on the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

They had the lowly Kansas City Royals in town and the Tigers were at Fenway Park to play heavy-hitting Boston. But the week quickly turned into one of missed opportunities – on the field and in the division.

Gil Meche was victorious in his return from the disabled list and the Royals dealt the Twins a major setback in the AL Central with a 5-4, series-clinching victory Thursday.

Meche (5-9) gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings of his first start since July 11, and the Royals won their first series since a trip to Houston on June 23-25.

The Tigers lost three of four to the Red Sox, but after dropping two to the Royals, the Twins are right back where they started the week: five games back.

Brewers 12, Padres 9

MILWAUKEE – Yovani Gallardo teased backup catcher Mike Rivera about his newfound acclaim. Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and the rest of the Brewers didn’t want any part of the attention.

Fielder and Rivera each hit two home runs, and the struggling Brewers built a big lead before hanging on to beat the San Diego Padres 12-9 Thursday.

Milwaukee led 9-0 after three, but needed Trevor Hoffman to earn his 26th save. The Brewers built their big lead after Fielder hit a 465-foot shot off the Miller Park scoreboard and Braun homered as the Brewers connected a season-high five times.

If Fielder or Braun were happy with their performances, they chose not to talk about them. The players stayed behind in the dining area and didn’t leave before the clubhouse closed an hour later despite being asked to be available by the public relations department.

The Brewers, who limped through the last six weeks after entering July with a two-game lead in the NL Central, won a day after sending former All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy to the minors, designating third baseman Bill Hall for assignment and firing pitching coach Bill Castro.

Rockies 10, Pirates 1

DENVER — Jim Tracy thinks his middle infielders have
few equals offensively or defensively, and Troy Tulowitzki and Clint
Barmes backed up their manager’s words.

Jason Marquis allowed
three hits over seven innings, Tulowitzki and Barmes homered and the
Colorado Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-1 on Thursday.

Fowler had four hits — three of them doubles — and scored three runs,
and Barmes finished with three hits and three RBIs for the Rockies, who
won the final two games of the three-game series.

Tulowitzki, who
replaced Barmes as the starting shortstop two years ago, has 23 homers,
one short of his rookie season total. Barmes has a career-high 17

Phillies 6, Cubs 1

CHICAGO — Cliff Lee showed again why the Philadelphia Phillies may’ve made the best deal of all before the trade deadline.

Lee won his third straight start since joining the Phillies, and the NL East leaders beat the slumping Chicago Cubs 6-1 Thursday for their first sweep at Wrigley Field in 25 years.

reigning AL Cy Young winner allowed one run and six hits over eight
innings, and Ryan Howard and Pedro Feliz backed him with homers.

Marlins 9, Astros 2

MIAMI — Jorge Cantu and Ronny Paulino homered, and the
Florida Marlins continued their potent pace at the plate, beating the
Houston Astros 9-2 on Thursday night.

Sean West (4-4) struck out
three in six innings, and relievers Brian Sanches and Chris Leroux
combined to give the Marlins their sixth win in the last seven games.
The Marlins remained 4½ games behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL

Hanley Ramirez, the NL batting leader, had two singles and
two RBIs for Florida, which has at least 10 hits in a club-record 10
straight games.

Mike Hampton (7-10) gave up three runs and six hits. He left after five innings with a left shoulder strain.

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