KANSAS CITY — Adrian Beltre hit a three-run homer, Michael Young also went deep and the Texas Rangers held on for a 7-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.
Ryan Dempster (5-1) gave up RBI doubles to Billy Butler in the first inning and Salvador Perez in the sixth but was otherwise stingy for the AL West-leading Rangers. He only allowed two other hits in six innings, striking out eight to win his fourth straight game.
Beltre's homer came off Everett Teaford (1-4), who was making his fifth start of the year. Young's solo shot came off Vin Mazzaro during a three-run seventh.
The runs proved handy when Kansas City mounted a late comeback. Alcides Escobar's RBI single off Joe Nathan put the potential tying run on first with two outs in the ninth, but Alex Gordon flied out to end the game. It was Nathan's 27th consecutive save.
Dempster has allowed only five earned runs in his last 26 innings, giving the Rangers precisely what they hoped for when they acquired him in a trade July 31 with the Chicago Cubs. The 35-year-old right-hander has won five of his last six and has a 1.73 ERA over his last four starts.
Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz also drove in runs to help the Rangers (81-55) take a five-game lead in the division. Second-place Oakland lost to the Angels earlier in the day.
The win also moved the Rangers to a season-high 26 games above .500 and assures a club-record fourth consecutive season of .500 or better — although Texas no doubt has grander plans. The Rangers have been to the past two World Series, losing to San Francisco in 2010 and St. Louis last year.
The 28-year-old Teaford was called upon to make his first start for Kansas City since July 8, when he allowed five runs in 4 1-3 innings at Detroit. He's been exemplary in long relief — he threw 5 1-3 scoreless innings last Saturday against Minnesota — but less effective as a starter.
That proved to be the case again Wednesday night.
Kinsler led off the game with a single, and after Andrus went down swinging, Josh Hamilton walked to put runners on first and second for the hottest hitter in the Texas lineup.
Beltre calmly waited for a 1-2 pitch from Teaford and sent it soaring over the left-field wall for a three-run homer, his 29th of the season. The ball landed just shy of the fountains.
The slugging third baseman also tripled and scored in the eighth, giving him 10 homers, seven doubles and two triples since Aug. 20. Beltre has scored 15 runs and driven in 20 during that stretch.
The Royals clawed back with runs in the first and sixth, but Texas added three in the seventh, the homer by Young starting things off. Kansas City added two more runs in the bottom half to keep it close, and the teams traded runs in the eighth before Nathan held on through a shaky ninth.
The veteran closer has 28 saves in 29 chances this season.