ARLINGTON, Texas — Adolis García’s lead-off, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Texas Rangers to a 3-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Saturday at Globe Life Park.
García's home run was his second straight game with a home run and his 15th of the season. On Friday, he hit a game-tying solo shot in the sixth inning and recorded a run-saving outfield assist by throwing out Nelson Cruz at the plate in the fourth inning.
He did something similar on Saturday. In the top of the ninth in a 2-2 game, García made a sliding grab on Cesar Hernandez's one-out line drive. Had it gotten past him, Hernandez likely would have gotten extra bases.
Then, in the bottom half, García faced Nationals reliever Kyle Finnegan (2-2). García took the 2-2 pitch from Finnegan for a ride to left field, setting off a celebration at home plate.
In a way, García's defense set up his offense.
"I take a lot of pride in my defense," García said through an interpreter. "I always go out there and try to do my best when I'm not hitting well. I try to take my defense to another level. That's what helps me thrive when I go to the plate and it gives me a little more energy."
Texas had just six hits in the game, as did Washington. The Rangers overcame a strong outing by Nationals starter Josiah Gray, their own bullpen struggles and surrendering a two-run lead to former Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz.
It took García having a sense of the moment, something his manager, Chris Woodward, continues to be amazed by.
"Some guys have the knack for coming up big, but it's over and over again," Woodward said. "It's not like it's lucky. He just constantly gives you a good at-bat and does it in big moments. He comes through. So you almost expect it."
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The Rangers had a little drama less than an hour before first pitch. The Rangers scratched announced starter Matt Bush, saying that he was unavailable after pitching an inning of relief Friday night.
Bush was announced as the starting pitcher shortly after his one-inning relief stint Friday.
Brett Martin started the game but pitched just one inning. Taylor Hearn — who missed his expected turn in the rotation earlier this week — entered the game in the second inning and threw four shutout innings, as the Rangers grabbed an early lead.
Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe took care of the offense in the second inning, hitting a two-run homer to center field off Gray. It was Lowe’s 10th of the season.
But after the Rangers removed Hearn from the game in the top of the sixth and replaced him with the normally reliable Brock Burke, the Nationals got to work. Burke gave up a leadoff double to Juan Soto, after which Josh Bell flew out to García.Cruz followed that with a two-run blast to left field to tie the game. Burke hadn't given up a home run since late April.
Burke got out of the inning, but not before giving up a two-out double to Keibert Ruiz. Rangers closer Joe Barlow (3-1) threw a scoreless ninth inning for the victory.
Gray threw an exceptional start for Washington, going seven innings, striking out nine and giving up four hits and a walk. But he left the game with a no-decision.
In the eighth, both teams had chances. With a runner on second, Cruz hit a screaming line shot called foul down the third-base line, despite Rangers third baseman Josh Smith lunging for it. Nationals manager Dave Martinez discussed whether the play was reviewable, as it looked like the ball might have hit Smith’s glove slightly. But it was not reviewed. Cruz then grounded into a double play.
The Rangers end their series with Washington on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. The Rangers are expected to activate Glenn Otto to start. Before Saturday’s game, the Rangers assigned pitcher Spencer Patton outright to Triple-A Round Rock.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard