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With Josh Hamilton and Cliff Lee Looming, the Rangers are Somehow Surviving

Adrian Beltre got the big hit. Ian Kinsler made the defensive play. And, in a first, Mark Lowe salvaged what Neftali Feliz ruined.

The Rangers beat the Royals in extras last night and -- pending a weekend visit through Cliff Lee and the formidable Phillies' pitching staff -- might avoid these early-season potholes with minimal damage after all.

When MVP Josh Hamilton made his dumb, daring dash for home on a foul pop April 12, the Rangers were 9-1 and off to a 1-0 lead in Game 11 in Detroit. With their best player out with a broken arm, the Rangers also endured ensuing injuries to Feliz, set-up man Darren O'Day, slugger Nelson Cruz and starting center fielder Julio Borbon.

The end result? Texas hasn't been good, last night's win raising its Josh-less record to 14-19. But it's been good enough, as -- with Hamilton on the verge of a return to the lineup -- the Rangers are somehow still in first place in the AL West.

While Cruz may return in time to face Roy Halladay, Lee and Roy Oswalt over the weekend in Philly, Hamilton took a step toward the big-boy lineup Wednesday as he homered and got two hits in a rehab start in Frisco. With gingerly slow steps -- no head-first diving, please -- he'll DH again tonight for the Rough Riders before a weekend stint with AAA Round Rock.

By Tuesday -- which would be exactly six weeks after his injury -- Hamilton could again be playing for the Rangers.

All things considered, the Rangers would have to deem this a successful survival.


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