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Rangers “Cruz” to Victory

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Texas Rangers' Nelson Cruz hits a 3-run home run in the 11th inning in Game 4 of baseball's American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Texas Rangers’ Nelson Cruz hits a 3-run home run in the 11th inning in Game 4 of baseball’s American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

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By NOAH TRISTER   AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) _ Nelson Cruz made a rocket throw to keep the score
tied, then hit a crushing three-run homer in the 11th inning off
Jose Valverde that helped send the Texas Rangers over the Detroit
Tigers 7-3 Wednesday night for a 3-1 lead in the AL championship
series.

Cruz, whose grand slam in the 11th inning won Game 2, once again
starred for the Rangers in a game delayed at the start for more
than two hours by rain.

With Detroit runners at the corners in the eighth and the score
3-all, Cruz caught Delmon Young’s fly ball to right field and made
a strong peg to catcher Mike Napoli to nail Miguel Cabrera.

Napoli blooped a go-ahead single in the 11th and Cruz soon added
his fourth home run of the ALCS. Cruz became the first player in
major league history to hit a pair of extra-inning homers in the
same postseason series.

Texas tries for its second consecutive AL pennant on Thursday,
sending C.J. Wilson to the mound to face Detroit ace Justin
Verlander.

The ALCS has marked quite a turnaround for Cruz. After going
just 1 for 15 in the first-round playoff win over Tampa Bay, he’s 5
for 14 with 9 RBIs in only four games against the Tigers _ and
seven of those RBIs have come in the 11th inning alone.

Brandon Inge hit a solo home run in the Detroit seventh that
tied it. The Tigers wasted a terrific chance an inning later
following some risky Texas strategy.

With one out and nobody on, the Rangers intentionally walked
Cabrera, practically daring the rest of the struggling Detroit
lineup to beat them. Victor Martinez, who hurt his ribcage on a
home run swing in Game 3, followed with a single to right and
Cabrera lumbered around to third.

Young, another Tigers starter who has been banged up lately,
managed to lift the ball to medium right. Cruz caught it and made a
perfect, one-hop throw to the plate that beat Cabrera by several
feet.

Cabrera bowled over Napoli, to no avail. Napoli held onto the
ball and Cabrera never touched the plate.

Austin Jackson was hit by a pitch with one out in the Detroit
10th, but Napoli threw him out stealing, and reliever Scott Feldman
made it through the inning without further trouble.
Feldman got the win and Texas closer Neftali Feliz worked the
11th.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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