- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Josh Hamilton’s feel-good return to Texas is on hold with a hamstring injury.

The setback could create an opening for top prospect Joey Gallo to stay in the majors longer than planned after he became the first Texas player to homer in his first two big-league games.

The Rangers announced after a 9-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night that Hamilton will miss four weeks with a strained left hamstring. It cuts short a return that included a two-homer game and a game-winning double that the 34-year-old left fielder says probably led to the injury.

“It’s frustrating. That’s the best way I can put it,” Hamilton said. “But you know what? There’s nothing I can do about it. All I can do is try to get better as quick as I possibly can. I’ve had success getting back pretty quick in the past.”

Chicago’s Jose Abreu homered in a six-run second after missing three games with a swollen right index finger, and Chris Sale struck out a season-high 13 in seven shutout innings as the White Sox snapped the Rangers’ four-game winning streak.

“He felt strongly about the fact that he felt fine today,” manager Robin Ventura said of Abreu. “Sometimes it’s not easy to say ‘OK, let’s send him back out there.’ You maybe want to give him an extra day to make sure he’s all right, but you have to trust the player sometimes.”

They compromised, with Abreu starting as the designated hitter to give the finger on the first baseman’s throwing hand a little more time to heal for defensive work. He followed the two-run homer, his ninth, with an RBI single in the fourth.

Sale (5-2) retired the final 14 hitters he faced and struck out Gallo three times before he homered again a night after his record-setting debut.

The 21-year-old Gallo was just supposed to be in the majors until third baseman Adrian Beltre returned from a sprained left thumb, possibly after two weeks.

But Gallo had experience in left field at Double-A Frisco before his promotion, with the Rangers starting to think about ways to get him in the lineup since Beltre, a four-time All-Star, is under contract through next year.

Gallo homered into the upper deck in right field for the second straight night. The shot off reliever Zach Duke made him the first major leaguer with homers in his first two games since Brett Pill with San Francisco on Sept. 6-7, 2011.

“Even with the strikeouts, there were some pitches he didn’t chase,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “You see what happens when he gets a mistake over the plate. He drives it a long ways. This guy’s got monster power. I felt the at-bats for him got better as the night went on.”

Hamilton came back to Texas in a trade after two disappointing seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. He missed the first two months after offseason shoulder surgery, the trade about a month into the season and four weeks of extended spring training and minor league rehab assignments.

The five-time All-Star - in all five of his previous seasons with the Rangers - said he started feeling discomfort in the hamstring about the time he wrapped up his rehab stints and joined the Rangers, and felt the biggest twinge chasing a fly ball Saturday against Boston.

Hamilton wasn’t in the lineup Sunday, but came on as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning. On the winning two-run double to the gap in left-center field, he said he felt the hamstring grab while running the bases. An MRI revealed a grade two strain. He said he had been wrapping the hamstring and considered doing it before entering the game, but didn’t.

“I feel bad for Josh,” Banister said.

Nick Martinez (4-2) allowed nine hits and seven earned runs in 3 1-3 innings - his shortest outing of the season for Texas.

EYE OPENER

Gallo got a start at designated hitter despite the tough lefty-lefty matchup against Sale after setting a franchise record with four RBIs in his debut. The Rangers had a season-high 16 strikeouts. “It was a great learning experience,” Gallo said. “I’ve never seen stuff like that from the left side. Next time I feel like I’ll have a better chance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: Abreu is likely to get a few more games at DH while his finger heals, with Adam LaRoche filling in at first.

Rangers: LHP Matt Harrison threw 79 pitches in a five-inning rehab stint for Triple-A Round Rock at Reno. He allowed two runs and five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

UP NEXT:

White Sox: LHP Carlos Rodon (1-0) faces the Rangers for the first time in his eighth major league appearance and fifth start.

Rangers: RHP Yovani Gallardo (5-6) is 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in his last four starts after starting the season 2-5 with a 4.19 ERA.

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