Adrian Beltre powered the Texas Rangers back into the American League Championship Series (ALCS) by pounding three home runs in a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday.
Ian Kinsler also homered but it was the big bat of Beltre, who became just the sixth player to hit three home runs in a Major League Baseball post-season game, that inflicted most of the damage.
He (Beltre) stepped up and put us on his back and hit three home runs against pretty good pitching and that's not easy to do, Texas manager Ron Washington told reporters.
And he did it. And he's been big for us all year. And today he was bigger than big; he was huge.
Beltre slammed solo shots in the second, fourth and seventh innings as Texas clinched the best-of-five division series 3-1 and advanced to the ALCS for the second consecutive year where they await either the Detroit Tigers or New York Yankees.
Besides my first hit in the big league this (three homers) is right up there, just because my team needed every bit of it to win the game tonight and that means something, said Beltre. When I am at home plate, I am just trying to see a pitch and trying to put a good swing on it.
The Rangers have made themselves at home in Florida winning five straight playoff games at Tropicana Field, including two this year.
Texas opened Game Four with a bang when Kinsler slammed a first inning leadoff homer off Rays rookie starter Jeremy Hellickson that stunned the Tampa crowd, many who were still finding their seats.
Beltre delivered another jolt with a homer in the second but the never-say-die Rays, who rallied from 7-0 down against the Yankees in the last game of the regular season to secure a post-season berth, hit back in the bottom of the inning when Sean Rodriguez scored on Matt Joyce's double to right.
Beltre restored the Rangers' two-run cushion with a shot to deep right in the fourth but the Rays answered immediately on Casey Kotchman's RBI single to keep it a one-run game.
Hellickson did not return for the fifth but that made no difference to Beltre, who took Matt Moore over the wall in deep left to complete his home run hat-trick.
He (Beltre) was definitely hunting the fastball, said Rays manager Joe Maddon. He got it. He got it in the right spot and didn't miss it.
The Rays looked poised to produce some more ninth inning magic when Kotchman singled home Rodriguez to cut the Texas advantage to 4-3.
But closer Neftali Feliz would settle down to record the final three outs to clinch the save, triggering a stampede from the Rangers dugout.