Smoak breaks out of slump in Houston

HOUSTON -- Justin Smoak had been in a terrible funk.

He was hitting .091 on this current nine-game road trip, seeing an already poor batting average dip from .222 to .205. He snapped an 0-for-16 slide with a fourth-inning single Thursday night in Florida.

On Friday, Smoak may have broken out of this haze. He had two hits, including a two-run homer to left, and drove in a career-high four runs in a 9-3 win against the Houston Astros.

As much as Scott Feldman's double highlighted a six-run third inning, it was Smoak's double in that same inning and later a fifth-inning homer that also were also key factors in the victory.

Smoak's average is now .211.

"I feel really confident right-handed and both ways, and you have to be when you go to the plate," said the switch-hitting Smoak, who is hitting .252 against right-handed pitching and just .125 against lefties. "It's one of those nights where I had a little success."

Smoak's 0-for-16 slump included a five-strikeout game last Sunday at Milwaukee.

"This road trip, it didn't start off great," he said. "It's just one of those things you feel really good for a week and you feel really bad for a week, and it's something I've learned you have to do something everyday and stay consistent."

Before the road trip, Smoak had a nice three-game hitting streak going and saw his average move from .190 at the start of the month to .222 on June 10. But things changed quickly when he got to Milwaukee for the start of those three games, and the slump carried over to South Beach when the Rangers took on the Marlins.

Maybe Friday night's efforts could be the start of something good as this road trip comes to a close.

"I'm happy for him, especially from the right side," manager Ron Washington said. "He works hard every day. He's young, so he's going to have some ups and downs. You don’t get down on yourself, we don’t allow him to get down on himself."