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Rangers rough up Bannister and hold on for 11-9 victory over Royals

ARLINGTON, Texas | Brian Bannister warned about this during earlier starts when he seemed to dominate opposing hitters with ease. He was a streaky pitcher who pitched to contact and, on occasion, the randomness attached to balls in play was going to jump up and bite him.

Well, that happened Wednesday, and it happened in a big way. Bannister surrendered three homers and seven runs in the first two innings as the Royals fell 11-9 to the Texas Rangers.

It was one random beating.

Milton Bradley hit a two-run homer in the first on slicing drive to left. Brandon Boggs and Josh Hamilton clocked homers in the second. Hamilton’s blast was a grand slam that soared 424 feet through a cross wind over the left-center wall.

All of that made it 7-0, which meant Rangers ace Kevin Millwood pretty much only needed to stay in the saddle and avoid an injury in order to even his record at 2-2.

Millwood did that and more for six innings before wobbling badly in a five-run seventh. No matter. The Rangers had a sufficient cushion. Frank Francisco, Jamey Wright and C.J. Wilson closed out the Texas victory.

Barely.

The Royals scored one run in the eighth and got a two-run homer in the ninth from John Buck. The nine runs matched a season high and still weren’t enough.

The loss dropped to the Royals, 12-15, into last place in the tight American League Central, although they remained just 2½ games behind first-place Chicago.

The Rangers also got a two-run homers in the fifth from David Murphy against Joel Peralta and from Gerald Laird in the seventh against Yasuhiko Yabuta. The second one blunted any momentum the Royals were building toward a comeback.

Yep, Texas hit five homers, finished with 13 hits and improved to 10-18 by winning for the third time in five games.

That might slow speculation that manager Ron Washington is about to be fired. Or maybe not.

The Royals had 12 hits, including two apiece from Joey Gathright, Mark Teahen, Alex Gordon and Tony Peña. They made things interesting by sending 10 men to the plate in their five-run seventh.

David DeJesus knocked Millwood out of the game with a two-run homer. The Royals got the tying run to the plate, but Wright struck out Buck. The Royals stranded 10 runners.

Bannister, 3-3, lasted just three innings and his problems were underscored by his pitch counts. He needed 30 pitches to get through the first inning, 30 more in the second and another 30 in the third.

His three-inning start was the second shortest of his career. His only shorter one came in his final 2007 start when he lasted just two-thirds of an innings against the White Sox in Chicago.

The seven earned runs matched a career high. Bannister also yielded seven last Sept. 8, when he went five innings in a 12-5 loss to the Yankees. The three homers also matched a career high; he’s yielded three on three previous occasions.

The Rangers jumped on Bannister right away. Michael Young extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a one-out single in the first before Bradley unloaded a two-run homer on a two-out slicing drive to left.

It got a lot worse in the second.

Boggs’ first career homer, a one-out liner, made it 3-0. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Hamilton, who crushed a 1-0 cut fastball for his sixth homer of the season.

The four RBIs boosted Hamilton’s major-league-leading total to 32. That is also the second highest total for a Ranger in April; Juan Gonzalez had 35 in April 1998 en route to his second MVP award.

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