ARLINGTON, Texas — Scott Baker won as a starter for the first time in more than three years and the Texas Rangers beat the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals 3-1 on Sunday to avoid a series sweep.
Adrian Beltre put Texas ahead to stay with an RBI double in the first. Beltre had his fifth straight mulithit game, including all three games against Kansas City to extend his hitting streak against the Royals to 17 games.
Baker (2-3) went five innings in a spot start, 12 days after winning with two relief innings against Tampa Bay on Aug. 12. That was his first victory since a start for Minnesota against Detroit on July 23, 2011.
The 32-year-old right-hander missed all of 2012 after Tommy John surgery. He made three starts for the Chicago Cubs at the end of last season and has started five of his 22 games since joining the Rangers in June. He had made six relief appearances since his last start July 13.
With Yu Darvish still on the disabled list and Miles Mikolas pushed back a day, Baker threw 51 of his 71 pitches for strikes on a day when the temperature was near 100 degrees. The only run on his line was Billy Butler's leadoff homer in the fourth.
Neftali Feliz worked the ninth for his sixth save in seven chances since reassuming the closer role a month ago after Joakim Soria was traded to Detroit.
Jason Vargas (10-6) allowed 11 hits and walked four in his six innings, though the Rangers only managed three runs (two earned) against the left-hander. Vargas had walked only one in 25 1-3 innings previously this month.
The Rangers had five doubles off Vargas, including a run-scoring hit for Adam Rosales in the second. Alex Rios had a leadoff double in the third, and scored on a single by Robinson Chirinos.
Chirinos was put in the starting lineup after Geovany Soto was a late scratch. The Rangers announced during the game that Soto was traded to Oakland for cash.
Royals: 1B Eric Hosmer missed his 22nd game because of the stress fracture in his right hand after getting hit by a pitch July 20. He is scheduled for another X-ray Monday when the Royals get home, and that could clear him to start swinging a bat again.
Rangers: LHP Derek Holland, scratched from his scheduled rehab start Sunday because of a muscle spasm in his back, said he was feeling better. "No doubt, I'm ready. That's for sure," said Holland, who hasn't pitched in the majors since left knee surgery during the offseason.
Royals: Kansas City starts a 10-game homestand on what originally was a scheduled day off Monday. James Shields (12-6) pitches for the Royals against the New York Yankees in the makeup of a game postponed June 9 because of rain. They then have three-game series against Minnesota, Cleveland and Texas.
Rangers: Texas plays Monday night at Seattle in the opener of a 10-game trip before the Rangers play 17 of their last 23 games at home. Mikolas (1-5) starts the opener against the Mariners.