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Buchholz blanks Rangers as Lamb just misses cycle

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- 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. His seventh homer came in the
third, and Lamb 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 (52 homers) 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.

Game 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.