ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Marcus Semien extended his majors-best hitting streak to 25 games with a go-ahead double and Dane Dunning won again since taking injured ace Jacob deGrom's spot in the starting rotation for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.
After finding out earlier Tuesday that deGrom will have season-ending elbow surgery, the Rangers clinched their sixth consecutive series and improved to 20 games over .500 with a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Honestly, for the whole time I was hoping for the best for him. I pray for him right now .... it's a hard time for him, there's a lot going on,” Dunning (5-1) said about deGrom. “I was hoping that he would be able to return ... But, I mean, any way I can help this team.”
Dunning is 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA in six starts since deGrom went on the injured list. Dunning’s other two wins came in games when he took over after the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner exited early twice in a span of three starts because of injury concerns, including his last game April 28 against the New York Yankees.
“He was great out of the pen. He’s the same guy as a starter,” Semien said about Dunning. “Tough loss for us losing Jacob. But hopefully we get him back as soon as we possibly can. And, you know, he doesn’t miss a beat.”
Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis García hit solo homers for the Rangers (40-20), who have a five-game winning streak and the best start in Washington Senators/Texas franchise history. The most wins they had ever had through 60 games before this season was 37.
Dunning entered the game with a MLB-best 48 innings without giving up a long ball this season before Nolan Arenado’s 11th homer, a two-run homer in the first.. Willson Contreras and Jordan Walker hit solo shots in the sixth.
“I’m a little frustrated with it," Dunning said. “Just left some pitches up and elevated that they were able to put good swings on.”
Will Smith, the third Texas reliever, worked a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 12 chances.
Rookie left-hander Matthew Liberatore (1-2) allowed five runs (four earned) over four innings as the Cardinals dropped to 0-5 on this trip.
The game was tied 2-2 in the fourth when Semien came up with the bases loaded and hit a ball that ricocheted off the base of the right-center field wall fronting the Rangers bullpen. Semien, who has also reached base 33 games in a row, went to third base and a third run scored after an errant relay throw.
“Those are definitely the times you want to get hits if you’re going to," said Semien, who finished 1 for 5. “Today they definitely pitched a little more carefully, made some good pitches. But in those situations, those are pressure situations on the pitcher. Got to two strikes and got something I could hit.”
The 25-game hitting streak is the longest in the majors this season and the longest in Semien’s career.
It matched Ian Kinsler in 2008 and Michael Young in 2005 for the second-longest in Rangers history. The team record is 28 games, set in 2000 by Gabe Kapler, now the manager of the San Francisco Giants.
“He's in a nice, nice groove right now,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “It's fun to see when really good, great athletes get in a zone, and that's been the case with Marcus.”
BIG TEX NUMBERS
García finished 4 for 4 and has a seven-game hitting streak. His 15th homer of the season was his first in 16 games. His 52 RBIs are one behind Houston's Yordan Alvarez for the MLB lead, and only two ahead of Semien. ... The Rangers have scored an MLB-high 386 runs, with a plus-155 run differential. They have scored 203 runs in 29 home games. ... Texas has won its last eight home games, a record at Globe Life Field, which is in its fourth season.
Arenado has an MLB-high 21 RBIs in interleague games. ... The Cardinals hit at least three homers for the 13th time this season. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers with 18 have more in the National League.
The Rangers look for a series sweep Wednesday with right-hander Jon Gray (6-1, 2.51) on the mound. Gray has won his last five starts, allowing only three earned runs over 34 innings (0.79 ERA) in that stretch. Jack Flaherty (3-4, 4.55) starts for the Cardinals.