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Lamb leads Astros offense as pitchers handcuff Rangers

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Needing only a single to complete the cycle, Mike Lamb still looked for a pitch to drive. The Houston infielder got one -- and was robbed of another home run.

Texas Rangers center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. sprinted, leaped and stuck his glove over the eight-foot wall for a tremendous catch to end the eighth inning. Even Lamb applauded after standing in the infield and watching the replay on the scoreboard.

"It's going to go on the highlights for a while, and it should," Lamb said. "It just stinks that it happened to me."

Lamb still went 3-for-5, drove in three runs and scored three times in the Astros' 7-0 victory Saturday that snapped a four-game losing streak.

Rookie right-hander Taylor Buchholz (5-6) baffled the Rangers again, allowing only two singles over seven shutout innings. He threw a five-hit shutout against Texas on May 21.

Lamb put the Astros up 1-0 in the first when he doubled and scored on Morgan Ensberg's double. Lamb's seventh homer came in the third, and he had a two-run triple in the seventh.

When Lamb batted again, he wasn't settling for a single, even with the chance to become only the sixth Houston player to hit for the cycle -- and first since Craig Biggio in 2002.

"Maybe I should have tried for a single," Lamb quipped after the game. "As much as hitting for the cycle is great -- and it probably won't ever happen for me -- I don't know how many times I've hit two home runs in a game."

Never in his 651 major league games after Matthews, an All-Star candidate with his .326 batting average, made the incredible catch.

"I didn't think he had a chance at it. I thought he was just jumping for the heck of it. Next thing you knew, he pulled it in. A fantastic play," Astros manager Phil Garner said.

"That's the best one I've made so far," Matthews said. "It was hit high, so I knew I had a shot. You go back, pick a spot and hope it's the right one. It hit right in the pocket."

Before the game, Lamb had X-rays on the ring finger of his left hand -- sore from a line shot he caught Friday night. He even talked to Garner about not playing, but started at first base -- with extra padding in his glove -- while Lance Berkman was the designated hitter.

Houston, with a 3-2 lead in the Lone Star Series, reached the midpoint of its season at 39-42 -- the same record the defending NL champion had last year. The Rangers also played their 81st game, and are 41-40.

Buchholz, 1-3 in six starts since his Texas shutout, struck out six and walked three. Chad Qualls, Dave Borkowski and Trever Miller combined to pitch the final two innings, completing a three-hitter for the Astros' eighth shutout.

"It's frustrating. Buchholz pitched well, but against other teams he's had his problems," said Rangers manager Buck Showalter, his team shut out for the fourth time.

The Rangers didn't get a hit until Ian Kinsler had a two-out single in the fifth, the only inning they got two runners on against Buchholz. Matthews led off the sixth with a single.

The Astros got two runners on to start the seventh and chase John Wasdin (1-1) after consecutive fielding blunders by shortstop Michael Young.

Eric Bruntlett reached on a fielding error, then Willy Taveras hit another ball up the middle. Young gloved that ball, but bobbled it and couldn't tag second base for the force, and his throw to first was late. That play was ruled a fielder's choice, not an error.

Ron Mahay replaced Wasdin and faced only one batter. Lamb -- whose major league career began with the Rangers from 2000-03 -- hit a triple into the right-center field gap for a 4-0 lead. Berkman drove him home with a single.

Wasdin, activated from the disabled list before Saturday's game, allowed four runs (three earned) and five hits. He sprained his right thumb on a comebacker in his last start June 11 at Boston.

With Mark Teixeira at DH, Mark DeRosa made his first career start at first base and became the first player in the majors this season to start at six different spots. He has also started at second base, shortstop, third base, left field, right field and DH for Texas.

The Rangers third ended with an unusual double play. Brad Wilkerson was thrown out trying to go from first to third after Matthews struck out on a wild pitch, a ball that ricocheted off catcher Eric Munson to the dugout along the first-base side. Munson chased it down and threw out Wilkerson, who overslid the base with his headfirst slide.

Notes

  • X-rays on Chris Burke's sore big left toe were negative, but he didn't play Saturday for the Astros. He was at 2B and hurt in a collision with CF Taveras on a defensive play Friday. Taveras was spiked on the inner thigh.
  • Three players started at six different positions last season: Chone Figgins for the Los Angeles Angels, Chris Woodward for the New York Mets and Luis Gonzalez for Colorado.
 
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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Mike Lamb would have two homers in the game, if not for this highlight-reel catch by Gary Matthews Jr.  (AP)
Mike Lamb would have two homers in the game, if not for this highlight-reel catch by Gary Matthews Jr. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

T. Buchholz
IP 7.0
H 2
ER 0
BB 3
K 6
Houston

M. Lamb
AB 5
R 3
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
 

Related Video

Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF5110001
Mike Lamb, 1B5333003
Morgan Ensberg, 3B2111310
Lance Berkman, DH4011112
Preston Wilson, LF5121002
Eric Munson, C4000115
Jason Lane, RF5011012
Adam Everett, SS5000003
Eric Bruntlett, 2B3100100
Totals387976418 
Batting
2B - Mike Lamb (, Wasdin), Morgan Ensberg (, Wasdin), Preston Wilson 2 (, Wasdin, Benoit)
3B - Mike Lamb (, Mahay)
HR - Mike Lamb (, Wasdin)
RBI - Mike Lamb 3 (), Morgan Ensberg (), Lance Berkman (), Preston Wilson (), Jason Lane ()
2-OUT RBI - Jason Lane ()
SB - Willy Taveras (, 2nd base off Wasdin/Barajas)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Munson-Ensberg, Everett-Bruntlett-Lamb
E - Eric Bruntlett (, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
Taylor Buchholz (W,-) 7200360
Chad Qualls 1000100
Dave Borkowski 0.1100000
Trever Miller 0.2000000
WP - Taylor Buchholz ()
Pitches-Strikes - Taylor Buchholz 103-62, Chad Qualls 11-4, Dave Borkowski 8-5, Trever Miller 7-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Taylor Buchholz 4-11, Chad Qualls 1-1
Batters Faced - Taylor Buchholz 26, Chad Qualls 3, Dave Borkowski 2, Trever Miller 2
Texas Rangers
Gary Matthews Jr., CF3010111
Mark DeRosa, 1B4000012
Michael Young, SS4000021
Mark Teixeira, DH4010001
Hank Blalock, 3B4000002
Kevin Mench, RF4000012
Ian Kinsler, 2B2010101
Brad Wilkerson, LF1000201
Rod Barajas, C3000013
Totals290304614 
Batting
2B - Mark Teixeira (, Borkowski)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Kinsler-Young-DeRosa
E - Ian Kinsler (, Wild throw), Michael Young (, Misplayed grounder)
Texas Rangers
John Wasdin (L,-) 6543331
Ron Mahay0111000
Bryan Corey 2100210
Joaquin Benoit 1222100
Pitches-Strikes - John Wasdin 101-58, Ron Mahay 3-3, Bryan Corey 28-14, Joaquin Benoit 28-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Wasdin 4-13, Bryan Corey 3-2, Joaquin Benoit 1-2
Batters Faced - John Wasdin 28, Ron Mahay 1, Bryan Corey 9, Joaquin Benoit 6
Game Information
Attendance - 35131
Game Time - 2:59
Temperature - 95
Umpires - Home - Mike Winters, First Base - Brian Knight, Second Base - Paul Emmel, Third Base - Bruce Froemming