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Adrian Beltre, one hit away from 3,000, has earned praise along the way

Texas Rangers' Adrian Beltre connects on a pitch

Texas Rangers' Adrian Beltre connects on a pitch from Baltimore Orioles' Kevin Gausman for a single in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 29, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. The hit was the 2,999th of Beltre's career. Photo Credit: AP / Tony Gutierrez

ARLINGTON, Texas — Adrian Beltre knows he will make history with his next hit. So do all the Texas Rangers fans.

Beltre went 1-for-4 to get within one hit of 3,000 for his career in a 4-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night. He singled to leftfield in the fourth, grounded out to short twice, and in the ninth, third baseman Manny Machado made a slick snag on Beltre’s short-hopper before a sidearm sling to second base to start a double play.

“I was just trying to get a pitch to hit,” Beltre said. “It felt really cool the way the fans were getting into it. Trying to get it over with? Yes. But I wasn’t anxious at all. Or maybe I was. I don’t know.”

Beltre got loud cheers all night from the crowd of 44,658, including about 8,000 who bought tickets after he got two hits Friday night.

Another big crowd is expected Sunday when the Rangers’ 38-year-old third baseman gets his next chance to become the 31st major-leaguer in the 3,000-hit club — and the first native of the Dominican Republic.

All four of Beltre’s at-bats came against Kevin Gausman (8-7), who went 8 2⁄3 innings to win his fifth consecutive decision over seven starts. The righthander has allowed only one run in 33-plus innings in those wins. He struck out eight and threw 118 pitches.

“I’ve been part of some real cool things in baseball,” Gausman said. “From the first, I could tell this was going to be a special night.”

Zach Britton converted his AL-record 56th straight save chance, and seventh this season. He relieved with two on and got Carlos Gomez to ground out, ending the Orioles’ sixth shutout this season.

“I don’t think that he was necessarily overanxious or anything like that,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Beltre. “He’s typically an aggressive hitter, and I thought he had some good swings tonight.”

Beltre, a five-time Gold Glove winner, had his career-best and franchise-record errorless streak of 62 games at third base end with a throwing error in the seventh.

Beltre is 10-for-18 in the five games of this homestand.

Beltre got his first hit as a 19-year-old rookie with the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 24, 1998, four years after they signed him out of the Dominican Republic. This is Beltre’s seventh season in Texas, where he finally made it to a World Series, and he is signed through next season.

He is a .286 career hitter who has hit for the cycle three times and been a league leader in hits, doubles and home runs.

“Never in my mind did I think that I was going to be in the position where I’m at right now,” Beltre said this past week. “If I tell you that, that I was, I’m lying. For me, I just wanted to be a good player . . . When you play for a long time, you accumulate stuff.”

Since missing the first 51 games this season because of calf issues, Beltre is hitting a team-best .310 with nine homers and 36 RBIs in 50 games.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said: “You pull for him, but you’d rather it be against somebody else. I think everybody in baseball is proud of the way he’s handled himself through the years.

“Everything you see out there, to maintain that level of intensity, you can tell how much he loves being around his team and the game. He’s got to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, doesn’t he? I mean, what else do you have to do?”

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly, an MVP and six-time All-Star in his Yankees playing days, said: “You just marvel, I think, at the consistency of his game over a long period of time and you know it takes a lot to be that good that long.”

Banister said he’s been marveling also at the players’ excitement during Beltre’s chase.

“High energy inside that dugout,” Banister said. “A lot of energy from Adrian. It’s fun to watch. A total buzz inside the dugout when he’s at the plate. Watch, everybody’s on the rail . . . They want to be part of it.”

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