Ranger bats explode

5-20-07 -- Mark Teixeira calls Ramon Vazquez the Ignitor. The veteran infielder lived up to the nickname Sunday.

Vazquez had one of Texas' season-high six home runs and drove in a career-high five runs, and Teixeira and Victor Diaz both hit a pair of homers to lead the Rangers to a 14-1 win over the Houston Astros.

The emergence of Vazquez, called up May 17 from Triple-A Oklahoma, could be big for a team without third baseman Hank Blalock for 10-to-12 weeks.

"He comes in here and kind of lights the fire under us and hopefully he's going to keep doing that because his bat would be huge filling in for Hank," Teixeira said.

Teixeira and Diaz each had three RBIs to help the Rangers win their second series in the last nine and rebound from Saturday's one-run performance. The 14 runs tied a season high for Texas and the series win is its first on the road this year.

Vazquez hit a two-run homer in the second inning and an RBI single in the fifth, and Diaz hit home runs in the fifth and seventh innings. Diaz entered batting .056 with no home runs or RBIs in seven previous career interleague games.

Vazquez added a pair of RBIs on a double in the ninth. Kenny Lofton also hit a two-run homer in the ninth for the Rangers.

"This is an opportunity and he's taking advantage of it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Vazquez. "He knows what he's capable of doing and he's never going to get out of it."

Vazquez said he tries not to worry too much about whether he'll got the nod at third base full-time while Blalock's out.

"I just want to go out there and play good whenever they give me the chance and whatever happens, happens," he said. "I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help win ballgames."

Brandon McCarthy (4-4) allowed four hits and one run in six innings to win his career-best third straight decision. He struck out two and walked two.

"He hit his spots and used his fastball," Washington said. "He's just been outstanding the whole month of May."

McCarthy said the early run support helped calm him down after a frazzling morning in which he overslept by three hours.

"I was running all over. I was completely panicked," he said. "Got out to the mound and felt awful and I just thought it was going to be one of those days. So to get the run support early was really nice."

It was a forgettable outing for Houston starter Woody Williams (1-6), who gave up eight hits and five runs, including three homers, in four innings.

"I've never been through anything like this," the 40-year-old Williams said. "This is the worst stretch of my career."

Teixeira broke an 0-for-8 streak in the series with a solo homer that landed in the bullpen in right-center field in the first inning. Teixeira, who tied a career high with four hits, added an RBI single in the eighth and hit a solo homer in the five-run ninth.

Gerald Laird's run-scoring double that bounced just below the line on the left-field wall put Texas ahead 2-0 in the second.

Vazquez followed with his two-run homer to right field that sailed just over the head of a leaping Luke Scott and elicited boos from the crowd. It was the second homer of the series for Vazquez.

The third homer of the day, a 367-foot shot to right field by Diaz, put Texas ahead 5-1 and chased Williams with no outs in the fifth. The third RBI for Diaz came on a single in the eighth that score Lofton.

"It's just an opportunity to go out there, have fun, help the team win and play good offense and defense," Diaz said. "I have to take advantage of the opportunity that Washington gives me."

It was the eighth time this season the Rangers have hit three or more homers in a game.

When Hunter Pence got Houston's first hit, a triple with one out in the second, the rookie got a standing ovation. He later scored Houston's only run on a groundout by Scott.

Pence, who has an eight-game hitting streak, also had a double in the fourth.


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