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Berkman continues with strong start at plate

HOUSTON -- The Rangers got their first indication of what Lance Berkman can do in the No. 3 spot in a lineup during their three-game series against the Astros.

Berkman, signed in the off-season to be the Rangers designated hitter, didn't light up scoreboard with a massive display of firepower against his former team. He just put together the kind of at-bats the Rangers are looking for this season.

Berkman, who played 12 seasons with the Astros, was 1-for-2 with two walks, a run scored and an RBI during Wednesday's 4-0 victory at Minute Maid Park. He was 6-for-10 with two walks and three RBIs during the three-game series.

"Obviously it's much nicer to get off to a good start rather than struggle but we have a long way to go," Berkman said. "I'm trying not to get too excited about it or read much into it but it was nice."

Berkman was involved in both Rangers rallies on Wednesday. In a scoreless game, he led off the sixth with a walk against Astros starter Philip Humber. After singles by Adrian Beltre and David Murphy loaded the bases, Nelson Cruz grounded into a double play that brought home Berkman with the first run of the game.

In the eighth, Elvis Andrus led off the inning with a single and scored on Berkman's double. It was his first extra basehit with the Rangers. Julio Borbon replaced him as a pinch-runner and the Rangers added two more runs that inning.

"That's what I expected ... he's a pro," manager Ron Washington said. "He certainly knows what he's doing in that box. He has done it before. It's not like he's a new kid."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.
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