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Rangers win again in extras to take 3-1 series lead

Oct 13, 2011 - 12:12 PM Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Mike Napoli hit a game-winning RBI single in the top of the 11th and Nelson Cruz capped the frame with a three-run homer, as the Rangers defeated the Tigers, 7-3, in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.

Cruz continues to punish the Tigers, becoming the only player in postseason history to hit two extra inning home runs in the same series. He ended Game 2 in the 11th inning with the first walkoff grand slam in playoff history.

"It's not easy," said Cruz. "People ask me if it's that easy. I guess if you can swing, good results are gonna come."

Josh Hamilton began the 11th with a double. With one down, Jose Valverde (0-1) intentionally walked Adrian Beltre before Napoli singled home Hamilton for a 4-3 advantage. Cruz followed with a three-run blast to cap the scoring, as the Rangers emphatically grabbed a 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Brandon Inge hit a game-tying home run in the seventh inning for the Tigers, who got a two-run double from Miguel Cabrera.

Since 1985, the ALCS has produced three four-game sweeps. In the other 22 series, the winner of Game 4 has advanced to the World Series 17 times.

Detroit does have a measure of solace, however, as it sends 24-game winner Justin Verlander to the hill Thursday for Game 5. The Rangers will try to close it out with C.J. Wilson

"Obviously we have to win tomorrow," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "We're sending a guy out there that is obviously pretty good. You win tomorrow and all of a sudden it's 3-2. We wouldn't rather have anybody out there than Justin Verlander."

Cruz and Napoli not only stymied the Tigers with their bats, but also their arms. An inning after Inge's home run, Texas manager Ron Washington ordered Mike Adams to intentionally walk Cabrera with one down. Victor Martinez, who strained his oblique on a home run swing in Game 3, followed with a single, moving Cabrera to third.

Delmon Young, also battling an oblique injury, lifted a fly ball to right, but Cruz made the catch and easily cut down the tagging Cabrera to end the inning.

"Crucial time in the game," said Napoli, who was on the receiving end of the throw. "[Cruz] gave me a good throw. He gave me enough time to brace and get low and it was just a great play."

In the 10th, Scott Feldman (1-0) hit Austin Jackson with one out, but Napoli threw out the speedster as he attempted to steal second.

The Rangers, who entered the game just 7-17 at Comerica Park under Washington, grabbed the lead off of Valverde a half-inning later and Neftali Feliz set Detroit down in order in the bottom of the frame to secure the win.

The Tigers lost the first two meetings of the series in Arlington, but earned a win on Tuesday behind trade deadline acquisition Doug Fister's solid start.

Fister allowed just two runs in the Game 3 victory and Rick Porcello appeared poised to best his teammate Wednesday.

Cabrera gave the Tigers the lead with a two-out, two-run double in the third and Porcello deftly protected it through five frames, surrendering just two hits over that span. But he ran into trouble in the sixth.

David Murphy, who doubled in the third, led off with a single and scored on Ian Kinsler's one-out double. Kinsler then stole third and Elvis Andrus followed with a game-tying base hit to shallow right.

Porcello induced Hamilton into a fly out, but then threw the ball away attempting to pick off Andrus, allowing him to advance. Michael Young capitalized, ripping a single to center for his first RBI of the postseason and a 3-2 Rangers lead.

An inning later, consecutive two-out singles by Murphy and Yorvit Torrealba placed runners at the corners and chased Porcello. Al Alburquerque walked Kinsler on four pitches to load the bases, but got Andrus on a grounder to escape.

Alburquerque's contribution proved critical, as Inge turned on an 0-2 fastball from Alexi Ogando a half-inning later for a two-out, game-tying home run.

Ogando had relieved starter Matt Harrison to begin the sixth. Harrison appeared unaffected by the game's 2:13 delay, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks while fanning three.

Game Notes

Harrison entered the game 0-4 in five career starts against the Tigers...The Texas rotation has had just one start of six-plus innings in this postseason's first eight games (Colby Lewis, 6.0 IP, ALDS Game 3 at Tampa Bay)...Cabrera has hit safely in each of his 11 career League Championship Series games, dating back to the 2003 NLCS with the Marlins. He is tied with Roberto Alomar for the second-longest hit streak to begin a League Championship Series career, trailing only Greg Luzinski (13).