HOUSTON -- When Colby Lewis returned to the majors after two years spent playing in Japan, he hoped his success overseas would translate into a good season with the Texas Rangers.
So far things are working out just as he planned.Lewis pitched a two-hitter for his first complete game, rookie Justin Smoak homered for the second straight day and the Rangers beat the Houston Astros 5-1 Saturday night to extend their season-best winning streak to seven games.
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"I think he's starting to get more consistent in what he's trying to do out there," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He's executing his pitches. He really is."Lewis (7-4) didn't allow a baserunner until Hunter Pence's infield single with one out in the fifth inning. Third baseman Michael Young bobbled the hard-hit grounder and held onto the ball as he watched Pence run to first.Though this was the first major league complete game for Lewis, he had lasted nine innings before, striking out 10 in a 2-0 Texas win against Seattle in April that lasted 12 innings. The right-hander struck out nine with no walks Saturday to shut down the Astros."It was kind of a similar situation with the Seattle start where I was able to throw my breaking ball wherever I wanted to, wherever I needed to," Lewis said. "The big difference is when I can get that breaking ball over for strikes it kind of keeps them off the slider and the changeup."Smoak drove in three runs. His two-run shot in the second inning that landed in the second deck in right field gave Texas an early lead. The sellout crowd of more than 41,000 had plenty of Rangers fans and they cheered loudly as Smoak rounded the bases.All the wins during the Rangers' current streak have come on the road, marking the first time in franchise history they've won seven straight on a single trip.Houston's second hit didn't come until Michael Bourn's double to the right-field corner with nobody out in the seventh. The Astros got within 2-1 when Bourn scored on a wild pitch by Lewis. The ball skipped by catcher Max Ramirez and the speedy Bourn slipped in just ahead of the toss to Lewis covering home plate."The pitcher was making perfect pitches," Bourn said. "He was on his game. He had all four pitches working. You tip your cap to him. What can you do? I was able to squeeze one, but as a team we couldn't get a lot going off him."Smoak broke out of a 2-for-22 slump Friday night with a home run and a career-high four RBIs in a 9-3 win in the series opener. On Saturday, he had three of the Rangers' seven hits and singled home a run that made it 3-1 in the eighth.He said Friday's performance gave him a boost on Saturday."Anytime you feel good at the plate you get more relaxed and I think that's the biggest thing, just trying to relax up there," Smoak said.Vladimir Guerrero pushed the lead to 4-1 with his single in the eighth and Young hit a solo homer in the ninth.Smoak's home run was the only hit Houston starter Brian Moehler (0-4) allowed. He struck out three and walked four before being replaced by Tim Byrdak for the seventh inning. Moehler was making his fifth start since moving from the bullpen to replace injured Bud Norris in the rotation.Texas slugger Josh Hamilton extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games with a single off Brandon Lyon in the eighth.
Rangers RHP Tommy Hunter, who left his last start because of discomfort in his right hip, threw 45 pitches in a bullpen session and is scheduled to start Tuesday. ... Texas LHP Derek Holland, on the disabled list with left shoulder pain, injured his right kneecap during a workout Friday and will undergo an MRI on Monday. Team officials don't think the new injury is serious. ... An MRI on Houston RHP Jeff Fulchino's right elbow was negative and he is taking anti-inflammatory medicine. He isn't expected to miss any time. ... Astros RHP Chris Sampson, on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right rotator cuff, pitched a scoreless inning for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday night.
41,060 (97.6% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
Home Plate - Marvin Hudson, First Base - Jim Joyce, Second Base - Jim Wolf, Third Base - Derryl Cousins
Brian Moehler was the tough-luck loser for Houston Saturday, allowing just one hit in six innings of work. Moehler became the first pitcher since Scott Elarton for the Rockies on September 22, 2001, to lose a game in which he worked at least six innings allowing one hit or fewer, with his team not being shut out.