ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Josh Jung’s two-run single capped a four-run eighth inning as the AL West-leading Texas Rangers rallied past the Cleveland Guardians 6-5 on Sunday, completing a three-game series sweep.
All four runs in the inning came off Trevor Stephan (4-4), who walked Marcus Semien and Corey Seager with one out before giving up an RBI single to Nathaniel Lowe, an RBI double to Adolis Garcia and a single to Jung.
Will Smith pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 16th save in 18 opportunities after Cody Bradford (2-1) pitched three innings.
The Rangers have won three consecutive games for the first time since June 17-19, and swept a three-game series for the first time since June 2-4 against Seattle.
The Guardians have lost four straight, their longest losing streak of the season.
Jung, a rookie starter in last week’s All-Star Game, was 1 for 12 in the series before his single to left.
Speaking of streaking in the wrong direction, the Rangers were 0-27 trailing after seven innings before Sunday. In Friday’s win, they scored nine runs in the seventh and eighth innings and won 12-4.
“I finally contributed,” Jung said. “To do that twice in the series to start the second half just gives us kind of that momentum going forward.”
“When you walk people, you’re kind of asking for trouble,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “That’s just a hard way to start the inning.”
Cleveland’s Steven Kwan and Semien hit homers to open each half of the first inning, only the second time that has happened this season. It previously happened on June 26 at Seattle, by the Washington Nationals’ Lane Thomas and the Mariners’ J.P. Crawford.
Kwan had four hits and three RBI. David Fry, who graduated from nearby Grapevine High, hit a two-run homer in the eighth to give the Guardians a 5-2 lead.
Semien’s homer nicked off Kwan’s glove in the left-field corner before Kwan made contact with the wall.
Lowe also singled home Semien in the third inning.
Guardians rookie Tanner Bibee allowed two runs on five hits in six innings. He struck out six, walked one, took a ball off a foot and was nearly struck in the head by a liner from Seager in the fifth inning. The ball grazed the top of Bibee’s glove as he attempted to field.
Texas’ Martín Pérez pitched five innings and gave up three runs, all in the first two innings. It was an improvement over his previous outing – six runs allowed in 1 1/3 innings against Houston on July 3.
The last Cleveland game featuring homers to start each half of the first inning was played on Sept. 14, 2015, at Kansas City. They were hit by Jason Kipnis and the Royals’ Alex Gordon.
For Texas, it previously happened on Aug. 1, 2001, at Yankee Stadium with the Rangers’ Michael Young and Chuck Knoblauch for New York.
SO MUCH FOR PERCENTAGES
The left-handed hitting Kwan went 4 for 5, all against left-handed pitching. He’s hitting .315 against lefties this season, .251 against righties.
Guardians: Regarding RHP Shane Bieber (inflamed elbow), “It definitely looks like it’s a non-surgical way to go,” Francona said after Bieber was examined Sunday by Rangers physician Keith Meister. Bieber won’t throw for two weeks.
Guardians: A bullpen game at Pittsburgh on Monday will begin with RHP Xzavion Curry (3-0, 3.04 ERA) against Pirates RHP Quinn Priester, who will make his major league debut.
Rangers: A three-game series between division leaders in Arlington will begin Monday when Texas RHP Dane Dunning (8-2, 2.84) faces Tampa Bay RHP Shane McClanahan (11-1, 2.53).