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Texas at Houston

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Texas (15-26) «0051010007110
Houston (20-20)000001120461

Back-to-back homers lift Rangers over Astros

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers got timely hitting, mistake-free defense and a strong performance from their starting pitcher on Friday night.

If only they could get all three in the same game more often.

Nelson Cruz and Ramon Vazquez hit back-to-back homers and Robinson Tejeda held the Houston Astros hitless for five innings to lead the Rangers to a 7-4 victory on Friday night.

Sammy Sosa added a two-run double and Kenny Lofton went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored for the last-place Rangers, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

"I've been on losing teams before and it's crazy," said the 30-year-old Vazquez. "Nothing clicks. One day you pitch well and you don't hit. Another day you hit, it's backwards. It's hard to put it together.

"But it's still early," he said. "If everyone figures it out, we still have a chance."

Brad Ausmus and Mike Lamb had RBI for the Astros, who've lost two in a row after having their four-game winning streak snapped in a 2-1 loss to San Francisco on Thursday night.

Tejeda (4-3) handled the Astros almost as well as the Giants' Tim Lincecum did the previous night. Craig Biggio ended Tejeda's no-hit bid -- and an 0-for-16 slump -- with a single leading off the sixth. The first three Astros reached in the sixth and Tejeda left after striking out six with four walks and a hit batter.

"We just didn't swing the bats the first half of the game," Houston manager Phil Garner said. "We woke up the last half, but we were already in a bind."

Tejeda was making his first start since May 9, when he was having soreness in his forearm. He threw 95 pitches on Friday night with no problems.

"The fastball was good, the changeup was good, the slider was good," he said. "Everything was together."

The victory eased the bad news from earlier in the day that 3B Hank Blalock will miss 10 to 12 weeks because of a condition that affects the nerves in his shoulder and neck. Blalock will have surgery on Monday. Jerry Hairston Jr. also missed Friday's game with a pinched nerve in his shoulder.

Vazquez replaced Blalock and Cruz started in left field, where Hairston had made three starts this season. Cruz batted fifth, where Blalock usually hits.

"I just want to be in the lineup," said Cruz, who hit his first homer five days ago against the L.A. Angels. "I'm starting to feel more comfortable."

Houston rallied against the Rangers bullpen, but Eric Gagne pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his second save in two tries.

The Rangers put a runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings off Astros starter Matt Albers (1-3). The Rangers finally scored in the third when Lofton singled, Michael Young walked and Sosa drove a double down the left-field line.

Cruz followed with an opposite-field homer and Vazquez, called up from Triple-A Oklahoma on May 17, then hit one to the same section of the right-field seats to make it 5-0.

The Rangers had back-to-back homers for the second time this season. Mark Teixeira and Sosa did it at Toronto on April 27.

Albers finished the inning, but was done for the night. Dave Borkowski relieved Albers in the fourth and Lofton hit a one-out drive to deep center that rookie Hunter Pence dropped as he climbed Tal's Hill.

Lofton reached third on Pence's error and Young singled to put Texas up 6-0. Lofton added his RBI single in the sixth for a 7-0 lead.

"Kenny led the way," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "He had some great at-bats and that made it nice."

After Biggio singled in the sixth, Lamb walked and Lance Berkman singled to load the bases for Carlos Lee who entered with five hits in eight at-bats this season with the bases loaded.

Washington replaced Tejeda with side-arming Scott Feldman and Lee hit the first pitch straight back to the mound. Feldman threw home to force out Biggio and catcher Chris Stewart threw to first to complete the double play.

With a full count on Luke Scott, Feldman was called for a balk and Lamb scored to make it 7-1. Scott struck out swinging on the next pitch.

Pence extended his hitting streak to six games with a leadoff double in the seventh and scored on Ausmus' one-out single. Pinch hitter Mark Loretta lined out to Vazquez at third and with Ausmus running with the pitch, Vazquez threw to Teixeira at first for the easy double play.

Texas reliever Frank Francisco started the eighth and Biggio led off with a double off the left-field wall, his 2,968th career hit. Lamb then doubled to left-center to cut the Astros' deficit to 7-3. Lamb scored on Lee's groundout.

Notes

  • Biggio hit his 650th career double. He ranks seventh on the career list. Biggio also scored his 1,800th career run.
  • Ausmus got his fifth RBI of the season and just his second this month.
  • Cruz snapped out of a 1-for-23 slump in his previous seven games.
  • Sosa has 11 RBI in his past 10 games.
 
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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Sammy Sosa adds a two-run double to help the Rangers snap a four-game losing streak.  (AP)
Sammy Sosa adds a two-run double to help the Rangers snap a four-game losing streak. (AP)

Players of the Game
Texas

R. Vazquez
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
Houston

C. Biggio
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Texas Rangers
Kenny Lofton, CF4221100 .246
Michael Young, SS4121122 .234
Mark Teixeira, 1B4000114 .293
Sammy Sosa, RF5112013 .266
    Eric Gagne, P0000000 .000
Nelson Cruz, LF4112000 .204
Ramon Vazquez, 3B4131010 .750
Chris Stewart, C4010012 .240
Ian Kinsler, 2B4110001 .224
Robinson Tejeda, P2000022 .000
    Scott Feldman, P0000000 .000
    Frank Francisco, P0000000 .000
   a- Victor Diaz, PH1000000 .242
    Kevin Mahar, RF0000000 .222
Totals36711738  
a-flied out for Francisco in the 9th
Batting
2B - Michael Young (13, White), Sammy Sosa (8, Albers)
HR - Nelson Cruz (2, Albers), Ramon Vazquez (1, Albers)
SH - Robinson Tejeda (1)
RBI - Kenny Lofton (10), Michael Young (25), Sammy Sosa 2 (32), Nelson Cruz 2 (10), Ramon Vazquez (1)
2-OUT RBI - Kenny Lofton (5)
SB - Kenny Lofton (13, 2nd base off Albers/Ausmus)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Feldman-Stewart-Teixeira, Vazquez-Teixeira
Texas Rangers
Robinson Tejeda (W,4-3) 5211460 4.53
Scott Feldman 1.1211010 6.61
Frank Francisco 1.2222000 2.03
Eric Gagne (S,2) 1000120 0.00
HBP - Berkman (by Robinson Tejeda)
WP - Robinson Tejeda 2 (5)
Pitches-Strikes - Robinson Tejeda 95-53, Scott Feldman 15-10, Frank Francisco 19-12, Eric Gagne 18-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Robinson Tejeda 4-4, Scott Feldman 2-0, Frank Francisco 2-2
Batters Faced - Robinson Tejeda 21, Scott Feldman 5, Frank Francisco 6, Eric Gagne 4
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B4120000 .241
Mike Lamb, 3B2211210 .345
Lance Berkman, 1B3010012 .279
Carlos Lee, LF4001013 .317
Luke Scott, RF3000111 .236
Hunter Pence, CF3110112 .348
Adam Everett, SS4000021 .191
Brad Ausmus, C3011100 .272
Matt Albers, P0000000 .143
   a- Woody Williams, PH1000010 .143
    Dave Borkowski, P1000010 .000
   b- Mark Loretta, PH1000001 .343
    Rick White, P0000000 .000
   c- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1000001 .154
Totals3046359  
a-struck out for Albers in the 3rd
b-lined out for Borkowski in the 7th
c-flied out for White in the 9th
Batting
2B - Craig Biggio (13, Francisco), Mike Lamb (2, Francisco), Hunter Pence (5, Feldman)
RBI - Mike Lamb (5), Carlos Lee (39), Brad Ausmus (5)
SB - Lance Berkman (3, 2nd base off Tejeda/Stewart)
CS - Hunter Pence (2, 2nd base by Tejeda/Stewart)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Everett-Berkman, Biggio-Everett-Berkman
E - Hunter Pence (2, Dropped fly)
Houston Astros
Matt Albers (L,1-3) 3655242 6.51
Dave Borkowski 4321040 3.31
Rick White 2200100 1.50
IBB - Teixeira by Rick White
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Albers 80-44, Dave Borkowski 50-36, Rick White 27-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Albers 3-2, Dave Borkowski 5-3, Rick White 2-3
Batters Faced - Matt Albers 17, Dave Borkowski 15, Rick White 8
Game Information
Attendance - 37634
Game Time - 3:02
Temperature - 79
Umpires - Home - Tim Timmons, First Base - Rick Reed, Second Base - Chuck Meriwether, Third Base - Alfonso Marquez