Rapid Reaction: Astros 6, Rangers 5
HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers blew an early four-run lead and had a rally fall just a run short in a 6-5 loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
Lefty Derek Holland, in his first starting appearance in eight days, had a four-run lead, but gave up a season-high three home runs and took the loss. The Rangers' biggest highlight was a David Murphy inside-the-park home run in the third that drove in three runs to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead.
Holland loses lead: Holland last started May 10 at Baltimore. He then pitched one inning in relief May 14 and had a bullpen session a few days later. Holland said he wasn't working on anything specifically and the extended rest shouldn't bother him. He pitched well early until the middle innings. With a 4-1 lead, Holland walked Justin Maxwell to start the fourth inning. Carlos Lee hammered a fastball to left for a home run to cut the deficit to 4-3. In the fifth, Holland gave up a two-out single to Jose Altuve and Maxwell hit a homer off a belt-high pitch to left, giving the Astros a 5-4 lead. Holland left after five innings. He gave up five earned runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out six.
Late rally shut down: The Rangers cut a two-run deficit to one when Josh Hamilton drove in Elvis Andrus on a sacrifice fly to right in the seventh inning. The Rangers tried to get a rally going in the eighth. Michael Young and Brandon Snyder reached on singles to start the inning. Reliever Brandon Lyon was brought in to minimize the damage. He got Nelson Cruz to fly out to right and Mike Napoli hit into what was almost a 4-6-3 double play. Instead, Napoli was ruled out at first but Snyder was safe at second when shortstop Jed Lowrie came off the bag too early on the relay throw from second baseman Altuve. Pinch hitter Craig Gentry ended the inning with a flyout to center.
The bullpen: Closer Joe Nathan appeared to be unavailable after pitching four consecutive days for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010. Setup man Mike Adams was also unavailable because he's still recovering from a respiratory infection. It left manager Ron Washington to use Alexi Ogando, Mark Lowe and Koji Uehara as the setup men. Robbie Ross was available for at least one hitter after pitching Friday night. Ogando appeared in the sixth inning, relieving Holland. He allowed one run on two hits in two innings of work. Lowe pitched a scoreless eighth. He's allowed just one run the last nine games.
Hamilton in homerless string: Hamilton hasn't hit a home run the last seven games, his longest drought of the season. No biggie. Hamilton still leads the majors with 18 home runs. Hamilton had a six-game stretch where he hit nine home runs. When his night was over, Hamilton was 0-3.
Murphy hits inside-the-park home run: Murphy's third-inning inside-the-park home run was the first of his career and the 23rd in franchise history. Murphy sent a shot to right-center field where right fielder Maxwell missed a diving catch. Murphy beat the throw home easily. It was Murphy's first inside-the-park homer of his career and first for the Rangers since Gentry did it Sept. 23, 2011.
Notes: The Rangers started the season 15-4 but since then have gone just 10-12, including a 8-10 mark in May. ... Because of pinch hitters, the Rangers moved Hamilton to right field in the ninth inning.
Next: The Rangers and Astros play the finale of the Silver Boot series at Minute Maid Park. Colby Lewis takes on Jordan Lyles at 1:05 p.m.
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