Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Astros 7
HOUSTON -- For the second straight start, Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers' offense overcame a 3-1 deficit, this time narrowly getting past the Houston Astros 8-7 on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
Scary ninth: With the Rangers cruising 8-4 in the ninth, the bullpen made things interesting. Reliever Michael Kirkman gave up a hit to the first batter he faced for the seventh time in 15 appearances when Astros catcher Carlos Corporan led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. Carlos Pena followed with a double, creating a save situation and forcing manager Ron Washington to go to closer Joe Nathan. Pitching on the second of consecutive days, Nathan wasn't sharp. He allowed an RBI single to Trevor Crowe to cut the lead to 8-5. A wild pitch scored Carlos Pena to make it 8-6 and advanced Crowe to third. He scored on Marwin Gonzalez's sacrifice fly to make it a one-run game. Nathan walked Robbie Grossman to put the tying run on base, then, after falling behind pinch hitter Chris Carter 2-0, got the Astros slugger to pop out to shortstop to end the game.
Offense gets Darvish win: Yu Darvish trailed Boston 3-1 last Sunday, and Nelson Cruz hit a two-run home run to tie the game and help the Rangers scratch out a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox. The Rangers trailed again 3-1 on Saturday night in the sixth inning, and Cruz again tied the game with a two-run homer. This time, the offense produced a six-run inning as Darvish cruised to his sixth victory of the season.
Six-run eruption: The Rangers jumped all over Astros reliever Philip Humber with one out in the sixth inning. Cruz hit his third game-tying home run in seven days -- a one-out, two-run home run to right-center field. The Rangers built off yet another clutch Cruz home run. Mitch Moreland crushed a triple up the grass hill in straightaway center field. Pinch hitter David Murphy followed with a double down the left-field line for a 4-3 lead. After Geovany Soto walked, pinch hitter Leonys Martin broke the game open with a two-run triple up the left-center field alley. Elvis Andrus completed the team cycle against Humber with an RBI single for a 7-3 lead.
Darvish off early: Darvish went to a full count against three of the first six batters he faced, and, even though he was perfect through two innings, it was a precursor of things to come. Darvish fell behind Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez with one out in the top of the third. Dominguez then belted his first home run in 134 at-bats to give the Astros a 1-0 lead. Dominguez gave Houston another lead at 3-1 with a two-run homer just inside the left-field foul pole with one out in the fifth inning. Darvish has allowed five home runs in his past three games.
Bases-loaded waste: The Rangers loaded the bases with one out and the top of the lineup coming up in the top of the fifth inning after a leadoff double by Moreland, a single by Jeff Baker and a walk by Craig Gentry. Astros starter Erik Bedard, who had a 7.86 ERA coming in, got out of the jam. He got Ian Kinsler to strike out on a high fastball for the second out. Andrus flew out to deep right field to end the threat.
Berkman keeps streak going: Former Astros All-Star Lance Berkman extended his hitting streak at Minute Maid Park to 17 games with a single in the sixth inning. He added his seventh home run during the streak with an opposite-field blast to left-center field in the seventh inning for an 8-3 Rangers lead.
Pinch hits: The Rangers are 6-for-28 in pinch-hitting opportunities after Murphy's double and Martin's triple in the six-run sixth inning. Martin is 4-for-11 as a pinch hitter.
Up next: The Rangers send rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch (2-3, 4.50 ERA) to the mound against Houston right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-0, 4.50 ERA) in a 1:10 p.m. CT game at Minute Maid Park on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.