Byrd sets career high in RBI with 5 as Texas wins

7-22-07 -- Marlon Byrd helped the Texas Rangers get off to a fast start, keying a five-run first inning with a two-run double. Then Byrd finished the job with a three-run triple in the seventh.

Byrd matched a career high with five RBIs to lead the Rangers to an 8-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night.

Byrd's bases-loaded triple in the seventh stretched a one-run lead to 8-4, helping the Rangers snap a three-game losing streak.

"He came up big," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "The triple was huge. It shows you that when a pitcher makes a mistake, he isn't missing."

Byrd failed to make the Rangers' roster out of spring training but has been hitting .346 since he was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma on May 26.

"I got pitches to hit and put them in play," said Byrd, who added that he hasn't been this hot since he was a rookie for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003. "This is right up there with my rookie year."

Byrd hit .303 that year in 495 at-bats. He hasn't had more than 346 at-bats in a season since.

Grady Sizemore homered for the Indians, who fell two games behind the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers. Detroit beat the Kansas City Royals 10-8 in 10 innings.

Ron Mahay (2-0) got the win, allowing one run, two hits and striking out five in 2 2-3 innings of relief.

Texas got off to a fast start against Cliff Lee (5-7) on Mark Teixeira's RBI double, Byrd's two-run double, Brad Wilkerson's run-scoring single, and Gerald Laird's RBI double.

Lee, who had 46 victories over the previous three years, lost his third straight start. He allowed seven runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings with five strikeouts and one walk.

"It isn't often you see a starter struggle and have that kind of first inning but pitch into the seventh," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He was up a little in the first, but after that he was more aggressive. The last six innings he was the guy we've been looking for."

Rangers starter Jamey Wright loaded the bases with one out in the fourth on a fielding error by third baseman Travis Metcalf, and two walks. Wright walked Mike Rouse, batting .125 at the start of the night, and then hit Josh Barfield with a pitch to force in a second run.

Washington then pulled Wright in favor of Mahay. Sizemore drove in a run with a groundout on the first pitch from Mahay to make it 5-3 before Mahay struck out Franklin Gutierrez to end the inning.

"A lot of guys like to swing at the first pitch, so I needed to make a good pitch (to Sizemore)," Mahay said.

Wright gave up one hit in 3 1-3 innings, but he walked six and was charged with three runs.

Washington wanted to give Wright one more batter, but felt that the big early lead was slipping away.

"I felt like he might be able to make a pitch to get out of it, but I had to protect the guys who got that 5-0 lead so I had to make a move," Washington said.

Sizemore's solo homer off Mahay in the seventh -- his 17th -- pulled the Indians within 5-4.

But the Rangers loaded the bases in the seventh and Byrd cleared them with his triple off Tom Mastny.

Rangers slugger Sammy Sosa was OK after leaving the game in the third inning when he was struck on the batting helmet with a pitch by Lee.

Sosa was down for a few minutes before getting to his feet and walking to the dugout with the help of a team trainer. Frank Catalanotto entered the game as a pinch runner in place of Sosa.

Before the game, Sosa was honored by the Rangers for hitting his 600th career homer last month.

Sosa was also hit in the head with a pitch by Brian Bruney of the New York Yankees on May 3, but wasn't badly hurt.