ARLINGTON, Texas — Nelson Cruz hit a towering three-run homer in his return to Texas and the Baltimore Orioles won their third straight game, 8-3 over the Rangers on Tuesday night.
Cruz hit the first pitch thrown by Shawn Tolleson, the fourth Rangers reliever, an estimated 404 feet deep into the left field seats to cap a six-run Orioles outburst in the eighth. The slugger, who spent the previous eight seasons in Texas, is hitting .313 and leads the majors with 21 homers and 55 RBIs.
Adam Jones matched a career high with four hits, including a homer off the right-field pole leading off the Baltimore fourth. Rookie catcher Caleb Johnson had a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth.
Brian Matusz (2-1) went 1 2-3 innings in relief of Ubaldo Jimenez, who held Texas to one run and four hits while striking out five over 5 2-3 innings.
Cruz was the 2011 AL championship series MVP on the way to the Rangers' second consecutive World Series. When introduced before drawing a walk in the first, Texas fans responded with an extended ovation. While there were some boos, those seemed to be outnumbered by fans who called "Cruuuuuzz!" like they used to do when the left fielder was on their side.
Heading into free agency last year, Cruz missed the final 50 regular-season games for the Rangers for violating baseball's drug agreement.
Cruz turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer in November from the Rangers, who likely would have used him primarily as a designated hitter if he had accepted. He went through the entire offseason before signing an $8 million, one-year deal with the Orioles early in spring training.
Alexi Ogando (2-3), the second Texas reliever, got a popup to start the eighth before allowing three straight Orioles to reach. He was gone after the double by Joseph, whose two hits matched his total in his first 11 games.
The Rangers, coming off a 7-4 record in their longest road trip this season, got two inning-starting homers.
Adrian Beltre led off the fourth with a homer off Jimenez to make it 1-1. Robinson Chirinos went deep off Matusz to start the seventh.
Joe Saunders, the winning pitcher for Baltimore in the 2012 AL wild card game at Texas, allowed two runs and 10 hits over six-plus innings in his first home start for the Rangers. The left-hander was signed during spring training and he made the season-opening rotation before missing more than seven weeks with a stress fracture in his left ankle after being struck by a liner in his first start.
Notes: Three-time AL All-Star first baseman Jim Gentile, who played in the majors from 1957-66, attended the game on his 80th birthday. With Baltimore in 1961, he finished third in the AL MVP voting behind Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. ... Orioles closer Tommy Hunter, on the DL since May 22 with a left groin strain, was encouraged with how he felt after a bullpen session before the game. He will do some fielding drills Wednesday, and could go out on a rehab assignment as early as Thursday.