Milton Bradley wanted to stay in the game. Still, he had already done enough to help the Texas Rangers and remain the American League batting leader even while getting hurt.
Bradley had a two-run single on the same play he sustained a slight left quadriceps strain running the bases, and the Rangers went on for a 7-5 victory Tuesday night over the Atlanta Braves.
After hitting the ball into the right-center field gap in the third inning, Bradley reached down toward his leg even before getting to first. Manager Ron Washington went to check on him, and after Bradley ran a sprint down the right-field line, the manager took him out of the game.
“He was actively trying to stay in the game,” Washington said. “I told him it wasn’t worth it.”
While he didn’t stop to answer questions after the game, Bradley seemed to be walking OK as he exited the clubhouse. The Rangers said he would be re-evaluated Wednesday.
Josh Hamilton put the Rangers ahead to stay in the first when he hit his AL-best 19th homer.
It was only the fourth game since interleague play began in 1997 matching the leading hitters from each league. NL leader Chipper Jones was the DH for Atlanta, going 0-for-2 with two walks. His average dropped three points to .400.
Bradley upped his AL-best mark to .330 by going 1-for-2. His big hit came with the bases loaded during a four-run outburst that put the Rangers ahead 5-0.
“He’s been huge,” Washington said. “I said he was going to be my cleanup guy even before we knew if he could get on the field.”
Braves cleanup hitter Mark Teixeira also hit in a bases-loaded situation, and managed only a sacrifice fly in the sixth against Vicente Padilla (9-3).
Teixeira, sent from Texas to Atlanta in a trade deadline deal last July, was 0-for-2 with a walk in his first game against the team which drafted him fifth overall in 2001. Teixeira made his major league debut with the Rangers in 2003.
Each time he batted, Teixeira was greeted by a chorus of boos.
“I was expecting some boos,” Teixeira said. “I get worse than that in New York and Philadelphia. I think it was mostly the fans that boo everything.”
Hamilton hit a towering 412-foot solo shot into the second deck of right-field seats off Tim Hudson (7-5) in the first. Hudson is winless his last five starts.
“He hit a pretty good pitch. I tried to throw a cutter in on his hands but he got to it and hit it good,” Hudson said.
“Huddy was fine,” manager Bobby Cox said. “In the third inning they got a little bouncer up the middle and then a hit and run that found the right hole. … It was a crazy first few innings. All of a sudden they’ve got five runs.”
Hudson, 0-2 since his last victory May 22, threw 17 of his 21 pitches for strikes in the first two innings. One of those was the homer by Hamilton, but he then got three outs in the second on only nine pitches.
But Gerald Laird hit the first pitch of the third for a single, and Ramon Vazquez followed with another single on a 1-0 pitch before Kinsler walked.
Michael Young hit what appeared to be a double-play grounder to second base, but Kinsler made a strong slide to prevent shortstop Yunel Escobar from making a good relay throw while Laird scored. Hudson, Teixeira and Cox all argued that it was interference, to no avail.
Hamilton drew a walk to reload the bases before Bradley’s big hit. David Murphy’s added a sac fly.
Kinsler had a leadoff double in the fifth, moved to third on a groundout by Young and raced home on a wild pitch, the last thrown by Hudson.
Padilla allowed two hits over six innings with four strikeouts. C.J. Wilson worked the ninth for his 14th save in 16 chances.
Texas led 6-0 before Omar Infante led off the Atlanta sixth with his first homer since last July. No. 9 hitter Gregor Blanco then walked, went to third when Hamilton dropped a flyball in right field and scored on Teixeira’s sac fly to center.
Marlon Byrd’s homer in the bottom of the inning put the Rangers up 7-2.
After Jones and Teixeira drew consecutive walks off reliever Eddie Guardado with two outs in the eighth, Brian McCann hit his 13th homer.