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Houston at Texas

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Houston (29-46)000200000251
Texas (45-29) «00142000x7150

Kinsler ends home run drought to lift Rangers past Astros

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

ARLINGTON, Texas -- With a pair of All-Star sluggers batting behind him, Ian Kinsler feels no pressure to hit home runs.

Still, it sure feels good when he does.

"Yeah, it was fun," Kinsler said. "I was able to jog around the bases instead of run."

Kinsler ended a career-long 32-game homerless drought with a tiebreaking shot and the Texas Rangers quickly rebounded from their first loss in two weeks with a 7-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday.

The three-run drive off Josh Banks (0-1) in the fourth snapped a 2-all tie. It was Kinsler's second homer of the season and first since May 18, the day after manager Ron Washington moved him to the No. 3 spot in the batting order and dropped Josh Hamilton to fifth -- with Vladimir Guerrero between them.

"Honestly, I'm not too worried about hitting home runs, just because of the guys I have hitting behind me," said Kinsler, who hit 31 homers last year before missing most of the first month this season with a high right ankle sprain. "You've got basically the best sluggers in the game right now."

Hamilton extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a single in the sixth. He finished 1 for 4 with a walk and is batting .494 (40 of 81) during the three-week stretch, which has moved him to third in the majors with a .348 average.

AL West-leading Texas is 19-5 in June, which included a major league-best 11-game winning streak before a 7-4 loss to Houston in the series opener Friday night.

"We got back to winning baseball," manager Ron Washington said.

C.J. Wilson (6-3) went seven innings to win his third consecutive decision over five June starts. With the temperature in the mid-90s, the left-hander threw 72 of his 112 pitches for strikes. He struck out three and walked four.

"It's not a big deal at all. It's completely overblown. My sixth year here, the heat has zero effect on me at this point," Wilson said. "You just have to build yourself up. You have to build up to it."

The only runs allowed by Wilson came when Jason Michaels hit a two-run homer to put Houston ahead 2-1 in the fourth.

"After we took the lead in the fourth, it's too bad we couldn't shut it down," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "[Banks] had to battle through a lot of things. He at least kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance to win."

But Banks, added to the roster Saturday from Triple-A Round Rock to start in place of injured right-hander Felipe Paulino [right shoulder tendinitis], walked rookie Justin Smoak to start the bottom half before an RBI double by Max Ramirez. Michael Young had a one-out single before Kinsler pulled a cutter down the left-field line.

"We just have to keep building on it," Washington said. "I never concern myself with Ian. What he did today, I've seen him do often. So it's just a matter of time, just getting his at-bats and feeling comfortable about what he's doing out there."

Banks gave up six runs and eight hits before being pulled after Nelson Cruz had a leadoff single in the fifth.

Kinsler missed the end of the game Friday night, when he was ejected after taking a called third strike for the third out of the third inning. He was thrown out after he flippantly tossed his bat, helmet and shin guard while still standing at home plate. That left him 0 for 2, ending a streak of four consecutive two-hit games.

But Kinsler, like the Rangers, quickly got back on track.

Kinsler had a leadoff double in the third and scored for a 1-0 lead on a single by Guerrero, who was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

The Rangers (45-29) had 15 hits, with every starter getting at least one. Cruz had three, including a triple, and Elvis Andrus had a two-run single. But they did leave 13 runners on base, the third time in four games they've stranded that many.

"There's no breaks," Banks said about the Texas lineup. "You've got to be on top of your game."

Houston went ahead when Arlington native Hunter Pence reached on a fielder's choice before Michaels hit a 417-foot drive to left-center for his fourth homer of the season.

When Michaels doubled into the left-field corner in the sixth, Pence was thrown out trying to score. David Murphy fielded the ball and the relay throw from Andrus was on target to Ramirez, who absorbed the hard collision and held onto the ball.

Notes
  • With the win, the Rangers clinched the season series and retained the Sliver Boot Trophy for the fourth straight season and sixth in the last seven. Texas swept three games in Houston last weekend and has split the first two this time before the series finale Sunday.
  • The only other time Texas was 45-29 was in 1996, the year the Rangers won the first of their three AL West titles in a four-season span.
 
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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C.J. Wilson pitches well to help the Rangers bounce back after having their winning streak snapped. (AP)
C.J. Wilson pitches well to help the Rangers bounce back after having their winning streak snapped. (AP)

Players of the Game
Texas

I. Kinsler
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
Houston

J. Michaels
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Houston Astros
Jason Bourgeois, CF3020100 .400
Jeff Keppinger, 2B3000102 .276
Lance Berkman, 1B2000201 .242
Carlos Lee, DH3010102 .237
Hunter Pence, RF3100105 .264
Jason Michaels, LF4122011 .244
Chris Johnson, 3B4000010 .308
Jason Castro, C4000020 .214
Oswaldo Navarro, SS3000010 .000
Totals2925265  
Batting
2B - Jason Bourgeois (1, Wilson), Jason Michaels (3, Wilson)
HR - Jason Michaels (4, Wilson)
RBI - Jason Michaels 2 (13)
SB - Jason Bourgeois 2 (3, 3rd base off Wilson/M. Ramirez, 2nd base off O'Day/M. Ramirez)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Jason Michaels 1
DP - Keppinger-Navarro-Berkman
E - Jeff Keppinger (6, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
Josh Banks (L,0-1) 4866411 13.50
Gustavo Chacin 1211010 3.24
Jeff Fulchino 2400100 7.07
Tim Byrdak 1100110 5.60
Pitches-Strikes - Josh Banks 84-47, Gustavo Chacin 16-10, Jeff Fulchino 35-23, Tim Byrdak 15-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Banks 7-4, Gustavo Chacin 1-1, Jeff Fulchino 2-4, Tim Byrdak 1-0
Batters Faced - Josh Banks 24, Gustavo Chacin 5, Jeff Fulchino 11, Tim Byrdak 4
Texas Rangers
Elvis Andrus, SS5022002 .290
Michael Young, 3B4110103 .317
Ian Kinsler, 2B5223003 .285
Vladimir Guerrero, DH4021113 .326
Josh Hamilton, CF4010110 .348
Nelson Cruz, RF5130005 .323
David Murphy, LF4120103 .273
Justin Smoak, 1B4110101 .227
Max Ramirez, C3111113 .227
Totals38715763  
Batting
2B - Ian Kinsler (12, Banks), David Murphy (14, Banks), Max Ramirez (3, Banks)
3B - Nelson Cruz (2, Byrdak)
HR - Ian Kinsler (2, Banks)
RBI - Elvis Andrus 2 (23), Ian Kinsler 3 (23), Vladimir Guerrero (60), Max Ramirez (8)
2-OUT RBI - Elvis Andrus 2 (14)
SB - Ian Kinsler (7, 2nd base off Banks/Castro)
Team LOB - 13
Fielding
Outfield Assists - David Murphy 1
DP - Andrus-Kinsler-Smoak, Kinsler-Smoak
Texas Rangers
C.J. Wilson (W,6-3) 7522431 3.35
Darren O'Day 1000200 1.78
Frank Francisco 1000020 4.36
Pitches-Strikes - C.J. Wilson 112-72, Darren O'Day 22-13, Frank Francisco 14-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - C.J. Wilson 11-4, Frank Francisco 1-0
Batters Faced - C.J. Wilson 27, Darren O'Day 5, Frank Francisco 3
Game Information
Attendance - 28951
Game Time - 2:55
Temperature - 95
Umpires - Home - Bill Miller, First Base - Mike Reilly, Second Base - Chad Fairchild, Third Base - Eric Cooper