- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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The bullpen was doing its job for two innings until one of the Rangers' more reliable relievers gave it all up.
Houston's Robbie Grossman hit a two-run, go-ahead homer in the bottom of the eighth inning against Rangers left-handed reliever Neal Cotts as part of a three-run inning that gave his Astros a 4-3 victory.
The loss prevented the Rangers from winning their third consecutive game, something that hasn't happened since May 24-26, when they took two from the Detroit Tigers and one in Minnesota against the Twins.
Getting two runs for the Rangers wasn't enough against Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer, as it seemed the bats went back to the team hotel instead of staying at Minute Maid Park.
In the ninth inning, Leonys Martin almost tied the score with a two-run home run with a deep fly ball to right that was caught in front of the wall by Grossman. The Rangers had the tying and go-ahead runs on base until Daniel Robertson hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
How it happened: The Rangers took a 2-0 lead when J.P. Arencibia hit his seventh homer of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning. Arencibia has been on a tear in the second half of the season. He has a major league-leading 22 RBIs in the second half of the season. Oberholtzer was 4-1 in his past eight starts coming into the game and pretty much controlled the Rangers after the first inning. He retired 17 of the next 20 batters before Rougned Odor drew a one-out walk in the seventh.
Mikolas danced out of trouble most of the night before leaving in the fifth after tying a season-high with 105 pitches. Designated hitter Chris Carter hit his team-leading 25th homer of the season in the fifth to cut the deficit to 2-1.
But the Astros rallied against Cotts, who hadn't given up a run in his past three outings (3⅔ innings). Jon Singleton started it with a single to center and after a strikeout, and Grossman hit the first pitch he saw to deep left field that pushed the Astros ahead.
Andrus' hit streak: Shortstop Elvis Andrus' season-high, 13-game hit streak ended with a 0-for-3. Andrus hit .380 during the streak and saw his average increase from .260 to .274. After an 0-for-12 slide, Andrus reached base in 27 of 60 plate appearances.
Outfield follies: Outside of improving the starting pitching and finding another bat, playing quality defense should be No. 3 on the list of things to improve. In the sixth, Grossman hit a flare to right that dropped in between Shin-Soo Choo Choo and Odor. It appeared Choo was playing deep, and with his sore ankle, his ability to get to the ball is limited. But Odor came all the way from second base and seemed to have a chance to catch it. At the last minute, Odor backed off and the ball fell as Choo came charging in. The Rangers have seen that twice in the second half of the season, as a ball fell between three fielders in New York. Someone has to take charge of things in these situations, and Friday night nobody did, at least on this play.
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