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Beltre hat-trick seals Rangers' win over Rays

updated 8:15 AM EDT, Wed October 5, 2011
Adrian Beltre became the first player since 2002 to hit three home runs in a playoff game.
Adrian Beltre became the first player since 2002 to hit three home runs in a playoff game.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Texas Rangers into American League Championship Series
  • The Rangers' 4-3 win over Tampa Bay Rays sealed the best-of-five series
  • Adrian Beltre becomes seventh player to hit three homers in a playoff match
  • New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers tied at 2-2 in other American League tie

(CNN) -- The Texas Rangers advanced to the American League Championship Series (ALCS) on Tuesday after sealing a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs.

Defending American League West champions, who lost to San Francisco Giants in the 2010 World Series, clinched the victory in the fourth game of the best-of-five series with a 4-3 win at the Rays' Tropicana Field ballpark.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre became only the seventh man in history to hit three home runs in a playoff game to see the Rangers set up a clash with either New York Yankees or Detroit Tigers in the Championship Series.

Beltre is yet to taste World Series glory in a 13-year career, having had spells with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox prior to joining the Rangers.

"This is great," Beltre, 32, told MLB's official website. "This is the reason I wanted to sign with this team, to put a ring on my finger. We're looking pretty good, but we still have a long way to go."

Predictable playoffs to follow regular season drama?

We're looking pretty good, but we still have a long way to go
Adrian Beltre

The Yankees and the Tigers first round series will go to a fifth and deciding match, after New York stormed to a 10-1 in nine-innings triumph to tie the first round clash at 2-2.

Outfielder Curtis Granderson grabbed the limelight for the Yankees, making two outstanding catches during their emphatic victory.

The first was from Tigers utility player Don Kelly in the game's first inning, with a second diving effort arriving five innings later.

"On both plays, to get them out of the situation and get runners off the field, getting us another chance to hit definitely ends up being big," Granderson, 30, said.

The final match of the series will take place at the Yankee Stadium in New York on Thursday, leaving Yankees manager Joe Girardi pleased that his team had secured home-field advantage for the do-or-die contest.

"We have an opportunity to win a series,Girardi said. "We fought all year long to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Hopefully, we can get it done on Thursday."

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