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Oswalt, Astros extend Rangers' skid to five games

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- The way Roy Oswalt has been pitching the past two months, the Texas Rangers almost certainly weren't going to snap out of their offensive doldrums Friday night.

And factoring in the Rangers' recent road woes, it was virtually impossible.

Oswalt pitched 7 1/3 strong innings, Jason Lane broke out of a slump with a two-run homer and the Houston Astros beat the slumping Rangers 5-2.

"There's not much room for error with Oswalt out there," said Rangers manager Buck Showalter, whose club has dropped a season high-tying five straight. "He's one of the best pitchers you will face in a given year. It was tough putting a lot together against him."

Rookie outfielder Chris Burke went 3-for-3, Brad Ausmus went 2-for-2 with an RBI and two walks and Brad Lidge got the final three outs for his 18th save in 21 chances to send the surging Astros to their fourth straight win and eighth in a row at home.

Oswalt (9-7) won his third straight start and seventh consecutive at home, allowing two runs and six hits. Oswalt hasn't given up more than two earned runs in eight of his last nine outings, yielding just eight runs in 52 1/3 innings.

"I went right at them and I was able to move the ball around a lot," Oswalt said. "I felt really good out there."

Ausmus and Willy Taveras had run-scoring singles in the second to give Houston a 2-0 lead. Lane, who entered the game in a 2-for-23 skid, hit a 372-foot homer just inside the left-field pole in the third to make it 4-0.

"I've had a rough couple of days," Lane said. "It's just nice to drive in a couple of runs and get Roy the lead. You usually feel pretty good when Roy's on the mound and you have a 4-0 lead."

But the Rangers rallied in the eighth as Rod Barajas and Laynce Nix hit back-to-back homers off a tiring Oswalt. Reliever Chad Qualls ended the threat by getting the final two outs of the inning.

Houston got another run in the bottom of the eighth when Adam Everett scored on a double steal.

"You don't see that a lot," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "It's the element of surprise. They executed it perfectly."

The Rangers, coming off a three-game sweep to the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels, have lost nine of their last 10 games away from home.

Even more telling about their recent struggles: The Rangers, the third-highest scoring team in the majors, have scored only 11 runs in losing the first five games of the road trip. Six of those runs came in Tuesday's loss to the Angels.

"We need a shot in the arm. We're just not getting it done offensively," Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. "Everyone fell into a rut at the same time. That seems to be what happens when a team goes into a slump."

Ricardo Rodriguez (2-1) lost for the first time in three starts since taking over in Texas' rotation for opening day starter Ryan Drese, who was designated for assignment June 8 and claimed by Washington.

He allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings.

"When you face a guy like (Oswalt), you've got to be tough," Rodriguez said. "We're going through a long slump. We'll worry about it a little, but I think we're going to come back and start scoring some runs again."

Notes

  • Young returned to the lineup after missing two games to be with his wife for the birth of their first child, Mateo. He went 2-for-4.
  • Rangers OF Kevin Mench grounded into a double play in the sixth inning, the first time he's done that in 222 at-bats. It was the longest streak in the majors.
  • The Astros honored their 1980 NL West championship club in a pregame ceremony. Eighteen players from the team were in attendance, including Nolan Ryan, Joe Morgan and Cesar Cedeno.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Houston right fielder Jason Lane celebrates after his two-run homer in the third inning. (AP)
Houston right fielder Jason Lane celebrates after his two-run homer in the third inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

J. Lane
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Texas

R. Barajas
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Texas Rangers
Kevin Mench, LF4000011 .295
Michael Young, SS4020000 .318
Mark Teixeira, 1B4000012 .291
Hank Blalock, 3B4010001 .284
Alfonso Soriano, 2B4000011 .285
Richard Hidalgo, RF4000021 .217
Rod Barajas, C3121000 .253
Laynce Nix, CF3111001 .243
Ricardo Rodriguez, P1000010 .333
   a- Marshall McDougall, PH1010000 .400
    Juan Dominguez, P0000000 .000
    Ron Mahay, P0000000 .000
   b- Gary Matthews Jr., PH1000000 .248
    Kameron Loe, P0000000 .000
Totals33272067 
a-singled for R. Rodriguez in the 6th
b-flied out for Mahay in the 8th
Batting
2B - Michael Young (14, Oswalt)
HR - Rod Barajas (6, Oswalt), Laynce Nix (5, Oswalt)
RBI - Rod Barajas (23), Laynce Nix (29)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Kevin Mench 1
Texas Rangers
Ricardo Rodriguez (L,2-1) 5844121 4.76
Juan Dominguez 1100120 1.13
Ron Mahay 1100020 7.97
Kameron Loe 1111100 3.06
Pitches-Strikes - Ricardo Rodriguez 78-46, Juan Dominguez 22-14, Ron Mahay 15-12, Kameron Loe 17-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ricardo Rodriguez 7-5, Ron Mahay 1-0, Kameron Loe 3-0
Batters Faced - Ricardo Rodriguez 23, Juan Dominguez 5, Ron Mahay 4, Kameron Loe 5
Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF5021015 .283
Craig Biggio, 2B4000023 .270
Lance Berkman, 1B4120001 .265
Morgan Ensberg, 3B4000003 .270
Jason Lane, RF4112021 .234
Adam Everett, SS3210100 .235
Chris Burke, LF3130000 .209
Brad Ausmus, C2021200 .223
Roy Oswalt, P1000013 .138
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
   a- Jose Vizcaino, PH1000001 .247
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
Totals3151143617 
a-hit into fielder's choice for Qualls in the 8th
Batting
2B - Willy Taveras (6, R. Rodriguez)
HR - Jason Lane (11, R. Rodriguez)
SH - Chris Burke (3), Roy Oswalt 2 (5)
RBI - Willy Taveras (12), Jason Lane 2 (31), Brad Ausmus (18)
2-OUT RBI - Willy Taveras (5), Jason Lane 2 (10)
SB - Adam Everett (6, off Loe/Barajas), Chris Burke (3, 2nd base off Dominguez/Barajas), Jose Vizcaino (1, 2nd base off Loe/Barajas)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Ensberg-Biggio-Berkman
Houston Astros
Roy Oswalt (W,9-7) 7.1622022 2.70
Chad Qualls (H,7) 0.2000010 4.36
Brad Lidge (S,18) 1100030 2.73
Pitches-Strikes - Roy Oswalt 116-82, Chad Qualls 6-5, Brad Lidge 13-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roy Oswalt 6-13
Batters Faced - Roy Oswalt 27, Chad Qualls 2, Brad Lidge 4
Game Information
Attendance - 36199
Game Time - 2:22
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Bill Miller, First Base - Joe Brinkman, Second Base - Derryl Cousins, Third Base - Jeff Nelson