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INGTON -- After homering in his first two at-bats, Adrian Beltre admitted to swinging for the fences in his third trip to the plate.
Sure enough, Beltre sent an 0-2 fastball from Kevin Gregg 406 feet over the center-field wall, becoming the second player in Rangers history to hit two home runs in the same inning and marking the first time he hit three home runs in a regular-season game.
Beltre was trying just as hard to become the 17th player to hit four home runs in a game and first since teammate Josh Hamilton blasted four two-run shots against the Orioles on May 8. But it wasn't meant to be, as Beltre grounded out to third to end the sixth inning and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the eighth in a 12-3 win over Baltimore.
"I was hoping for him to get a fourth one also, but it didn't work," manager Ron Washington said.
"They weren't giving me advice, but they were telling me, 'You've got two more at-bats to do it. Go do it,' Beltre said of his teammates in the dugout after he hit his third homer of the night. "I hit a ground ball and they were talking smack to me, 'C'mon, what are you doing hitting a ball on the ground? I tried to hit the ball in the air, but I couldn't. That last at-bat I was trying to do it again. It didn't work out."
Beltre helped the Rangers win the rubber match of a three-game series with the Orioles and maintain a five-game lead in the American League West over the A's. Derek Holland won for the first time in four weeks, thanks in part to Beltre's three blasts.
"I guess he's trying to compete with Josh. Sorry, it's not good enough -- three's nothing compared to four," Holland joked. "It's awesome to watch. I'm very happy for him to come out swinging like that. It was awesome, too, for him to put up some runs like that and give me a cushion. You always want that. [Nos.] 1-9, anyone can do it in this lineup."
Beltre hit three home runs in the Rangers' 4-3 win over the Rays in Game 4 of last year's AL Division series, but all 23 of his previous multihomer games in the regular season were two-home run efforts. He joined Albert Pujols, George Brett, Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth as the only players with three homers in a regular-season and playoff game.
"I've seen him do three before," Hamilton said. "You've got to get three to get four. And you've got to get two to get three. I was on base for two of them. It's kind of like how Elvis [Andrus] is on for me. I was on for him tonight. That's how you score a guy from first base."
By hitting a pair of two-run blasts in the fourth inning -- with Hamilton on first base each time -- Beltre became the second player in Rangers history with multiple homers in the same inning. The other was Carl Everett, who homered twice in the seventh inning of a 12-4 win over the A's on July 26, 2002.
"The best inning of my life," Beltre said. "I didn't even know I had two in one inning. It's kind of cool."
Beltre also led off the second inning with a homer, a 408-foot shot on a full count off Tommy Hunter. It was his 20th home run of the season, giving him 10 20-homer seasons for his career. Beltre now has 22 home runs this year, becoming the ninth third baseman in Major League history with at least 10 seasons of 20 or more homers. Also known for his defensive prowess, Beltre had homered just once in his previous 29 games before Wednesday.
"He's a complete baseball player," Washington said. "He can run the bases extremely well. I think everyone knows he can hit. You play long enough through a season, you'll hit some spells where things don't go right. I think that's what it was. Adrian never loses his enthusiasm and through all the time he thought he was in a slump, he was having a ton of fun."
The only other player to homer twice in one inning this season was Kendrys Morales, who hit home runs from both sides of the plate for the Angels in a 15-8 win over the Rangers on July 30, also at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The nine runs the Rangers scored in the fourth were the most they scored in one inning since they scored 11 times in the fifth inning of a 15-3 win over the Rays on Sept. 26, 2009.