ARLINGTON, Texas — Adrian Gonzalez homered twice to give him five in four games, Andrew Miller pitched three-hit ball in a spot start and the Boston Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 6-0 on Thursday night.
Miller threw 6 1-3 impressive innings and the Red Sox took the final three matchups in a four-game series between AL division leaders.
Gonzalez hit a solo shot in the first inning and a two-run drive in the third off Alexi Ogando (12-6), giving him homers on three consecutive swings — including one in the eighth inning of Boston’s 13-2 victory Wednesday night.
Gonzalez, who had his 13th career multihomer game, had gone 84 at-bats without a long ball before homering in the first inning of Tuesday night’s 11-5 win.
David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia also connected for the Red Sox, who have won six of eight and remain one game ahead of New York in the AL East. The Yankees pounded Oakland 22-9 earlier Thursday.
The Red Sox have moved Sunday’s series finale against the Oakland Athletics to Saturday night as part of a day-night doubleheader in anticipation of Hurricane Irene.
The start time of the first game was moved up to noon, with the second game scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. as part of the changes announced Thursday.
Potential severe weather has been forecast for the area late Saturday and throughout the day on Sunday as Hurricane Irene moves up the East Coast.
“We felt it was necessary and prudent to move the Sunday game to Saturday,” Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino said. “This will not only give us the best opportunity to play the scheduled games, but also help to insure that traveling conditions are safer for our fans.”
Miller (6-1) struck out six and walked two in his 10th start of the season. The lanky lefthander, who has also pitched in relief twice this season, got the assignment because manager Terry Francona pushed righthander Tim Wakefield back a day, giving the knuckleballer his sixth shot at his 200th victory at home Friday night against Oakland.
The Rangers, who have dropped five of six, held a seven-game lead in the AL West over the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 17. That margin has shrunk to two games entering Friday night’s opener of a three-games series between the teams in Texas.
The streaking Angels, who have won six straight, were idle Thursday.
Ogando allowed a career-high four homers — the same number he yielded in his previous 12 starts — among his six runs and six hits in four innings as he failed to join C.J. Wilson as the Rangers’ second 13-game winner.
Texas was a 4-0 winner in the opener of the series, but Boston took the final three games by a total score of 30-7.
With two outs and nobody on in the first, Gonzalez lofted Ogando’s fastball onto the grass hill beyond the center-field wall.
Ortiz led off the second with a drive into the right-field seats for his 25th homer to give Boston a 2-0 pad. Ortiz had missed nine games because of bursitis in his right heel before returning to the lineup Wednesday night when he went 2 for 5 and scored twice.
Ortiz has his eighth 25-homer season for Boston, second in club history behind Ted Williams’ 14. Ortiz started the night tied with Jim Rice at seven.
With Jed Lowrie on first after a walk in the third, Gonzalez pounded another Ogando fastball 448 feet into the Red Sox bullpen in left-center for his 23rd homer and a 4-0 edge.
Carl Crawford opened the fourth with a single and Saltalamacchia, traded by the Rangers to the Red Sox in July 2010, launched a two-run shot for his 13th of the season to stretch the lead to 6-0.
NOTES: Boston OF J.D. Drew ( left shoulder) is expected to DH in a minor league rehab assignment sometime this weekend. The team he’s assigned to will depend on the weather in New England. … Texas LHP Derek Holland (11-5) ge ts the start Friday night against Dan Haren (13-6) of the Angels. … Four hours before the game began, Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre slowly ran the bases as he continued his rehab from a strained left hamstring that landed him on the 15-day DL on July 23. Manager Ron Washington said there’s no schedule for the All-Star to begin a minor league rehab assignment.
Braves 8, Cubs 3
CHICAGO — Brian McCann homered twice and the Atlanta Braves beat the Chicago Cubs 8-3 Thursday.
McCann hit a three-run homer in the first and a solo shot in the seventh for his eighth career multi-homer game. Michael Bourn had a career high-tying four hits, scored two runs, and drove in a run.
Marlon Byrd homered and Tyler Colvin added a triple and a run for the Cubs, who committed four errors.
Brandon Beachy (7-2) won his fourth straight decision, recovering from a shaky start to pitch six innings. He allowed six hits, two earned runs and struck out eight.
Matt Garza (6-10) allowed six runs — three earned — and eight hits over five innings. He struck out six.
Arizona 8, Nationals 1
WASHINGTON — Wade Miley threw six scoreless innings to get his first major league victory, and Chris Young and Paul Goldschmidt homered for Arizona.
Miley (1-1) allowed five hits, struck out four and walked four in his second game in the majors. The 24-year-old left-hander repeatedly worked out of trouble — allowing two men to reach base in four of the first five innings — but he mixed his low 90s fastball with a generous dose of offspeed pitches to keep the Nationals in check.
John Lannan (8-10) allowed two runs to become Washington’s latest hard-luck loser. He had one major mistake — a fastball that Young deposited about a half-dozen rows into the left field bleachers with one out in the sixth to break a scoreless tie. Lannan allowed seven hits over six innings in dropping his third straight decision.
Royals 9, Blue Jays 6
TORONTO — Jeff Francis pitched six-plus innings to win for the first time since July 29, Melky Cabrera homered and the Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-6 on Thursday night.
Billy Butler went 4 for 5 with two RBIs and scored twice as the Royals won their first series since taking two of three against Baltimore from Aug. 2-4. It was Kansas City’s first series victory in Toronto since August 2002.
Butler doubled and scored in the fourth, singled in both the sixth and seventh and doubled home a pair of runs off reliever Shawn Camp in the eighth. He went 8 for 15 with five extra-base hits to help the Royals win twice in the three-game series.
J.P. Arencibia and Edwin Encarnacion homered for the Blue Jays, but Toronto lost for the fourth time in six games.
Francis (5-14) came in 0-3 with an 8.27 ERA in his past four outings but was solid in his first career start in Canada. The left-hander, born in Vancouver, British Columbia, improved to 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in three career starts against Toronto.
The Blue Jays managed just three hits against Francis over the first six innings before chasing him in the seventh. Kelly Johnson led off with a single and Arencibia followed with a two-run drive to left, his 20th. Francis left after Mike McCoy followed with a single.
Greg Holland came on and got Yunel Escobar to ground into a force before fanning Eric Thames and Jose Bautista.
Holland pitched two innings and Joakim Soria gave up Encarnacion’s 13th homer, a two-run shot in the ninth.
Francis, who won just one of his previous nine decisions, gave up two runs and six hits. He walked three, one intentional, and struck out five.
Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez led off the third with a double and scored on a two-out base hit by Johnny Giavotella. Butler doubled to begin the fourth and scored on a two-out single from Mike Moustakas.
The Royals got two more in the sixth. Cabrera doubled, moved to third on Butler’s single and scored on a base hit by Jeff Francoeur. After Moustakas grounded into a fielder’s choice, Perez drove in Butler with a base hit to center.
Cabrera chased Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil with a one-out homer to left in the seventh, his 17th.
Cecil (4-7) lost his third straight decision, allowing five runs and nine in 6 1-3 innings. He walked one and struck out three.
Arencibia’s homer in the seventh cut it to 5-2 but Butler’s two-run double in the eighth restored Kansas City’s five-run lead.
Brett Lawrie hit an RBI triple off Holland in the bottom half and Arencibia added a sacrifice fly, but the Royals answered in the ninth when Moustakas hit an RBI double off Rommie Lewis and Mitch Maier added a sacrifice fly off Jesse Litsch.
Johnson, acquired Tuesday from Arizona, made his Toronto debut. Batting in the seventh spot, he went 1 for 2 with two walks. He also threw out Maier trying to score from third on a grounder in the eighth.
NOTES: Toronto optioned OF Darin Mastroianni to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Johnson. … Blue Jays OF Colby Rasmus (right wrist) missed his second straight game. … Royals OF Alex Gordon did not start because of a bruised right elbow sustained when he was hit by a pitch Wednesday. He came on as a defensive replacement in the ninth. … Arencibia’s 20 homers match John Buck (2010 ) for the most in a season by a Blue Jays catcher. … Kansas City had 16 hits for the second time in the series. … A moment of silence was held before the game to honor Mike Flanagan, who pitched for the Blue Jays from 1987-90.