Hamilton hits four homers, Orioles fall

BALTIMORE - It didn't matter that Josh Hamilton's jersey said "Texas" across the chest. Fans cheered when the Rangers' slugger stepped to the plate in Tuesday's eighth inning, having already mashed three homers on the night.

Hamilton didn't disappoint, crushing a Darren O'Day offering to dead center, becoming the 16th player in major-league history to hit four homers in a game, leading Texas to a 10-3 win over Baltimore before 11,263 at Camden Yards.

"Obviously it's, other than being in the World Series, the highlight of my big-league career," Hamilton said, noting he had never hit three in a game to that point. "To hit four is just an awesome feeling, to see how excited my teammates got.

"It reminds you of when you're in Little League and a little kid, and just the excitement and why we play the game, things like that. You never know what can happen."

Hamilton accomplished one of the rarest feats in baseball, more uncommon than a perfect game and about as rare as an unassisted triple play.

And when he did it, all team allegiances went out the window. Those in attendance appreciated Hamilton with a standing ovation for becoming the first player to hit four in a game since Toronto's Carlos Delgado in 2003.

It marked the second time the Orioles were victimized for four blasts in one contest, as Rocky Colavito hit four against them in 1959. Ironically, Colavito was the last American League position player to record a win before Chris Davis did it for Baltimore Sunday.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter appreciated Hamilton's feat, but not being on the receiving end of it.

"I'd rather see it from a different dugout," Showalter said. "He's one of the best players in the game. You can see why."

Dating back to Monday's ninth inning, Hamilton has five homers in six at-bats and by going 5-for-5, with a double accounting for the fifth hit, he broke one record and matched another. His 18 total bases set a new AL standard and his five extra-base hits tied a major-league mark. He also set a career high with eight RBIs.

Hamilton went into the night already leading the AL with 10 homers, and he ended the contest with his season total at 14 thanks to four blasts off three different pitchers.

"It was the first time I've ever seen anything like that. Very special hitter," Baltimore starter Jake Arrieta said. "He didn't miss tonight."

Hamilton started early with a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw from Arrieta (2-3) in the first inning. The Rangers' center fielder then bombed another two-run homer off Arrieta in the third for the first half of back-to-back blasts with Adrian Beltre.

Hamilton doubled in the fifth and then returned to clearing the fence in the seventh, when he launched a two-run homer to center off lefty Zach Phillips, making him the first player since 2006 to hit three in a game at Camden Yards.

Hamilton trumped that in the eighth, crushing O'Day's 0-2 pitch beyond the reach of center fielder Adam Jones for his historic homer.

Hamilton provided the bulk of the offense for Texas (20-10), which has handily beaten Baltimore (19-11) the last two nights.

The Rangers have outscored the Orioles 24-6 over the first two games of a four-game set after Baltimore had permitted just 23 runs over the previous nine games combined.

Arrieta was hammered for a career-high three homers, and six runs in 6 1-3 innings overall.

Texas starter Neftali Feliz (2-1) earned the victory, striking out a career-high eight and allowing one run in six innings.

But all the focus was on Hamilton, who ended the contest leading the majors in homers, well on his way to another remarkable season.

Sitting before a room full of reporters, he seemed to feel a subdued excitement, and admitted he might not immediately grasp what he had just done.

"Something incredible happens, it takes a little bit for it to sink in," he said. "I think when I get away from everybody and I have some time to myself, I think it might then.

"All I can say, man, is it's an absolute blessing from above to be sitting up here and talking to you about this, to be in some good company. It's just awesome."

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