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Five no-hit innings on four hours' sleep

HOUSTON -- The journey for a no-hitter took a strange turn for Texas Rangers left-hander Robbie Ross on Saturday night.

He arrived in Dallas from Austin at 3 a.m. Saturday to catch a 9 a.m. flight. He landed in plenty of time for his spot start against the Houston Astros.

He encountered one problem: There was no room for him at the team hotel.

So Ross sat in the hotel lobby from noon to about 2 p.m.

When the Rangers arrived Thursday from Seattle, the two extra rooms were given to Derek Holland and Ryan Rua. LSU played Wisconsin on Saturday at Reliant Stadium, so hotel rooms in this city were scarce.

After Ross finally got to his room, he tried to take a nap. But he tossed and turned, afraid he would oversleep. Trouble looms when that happens.

So Ross arrived at Minute Maid Park on time and pitched wonderfully. He allowed no hits or runs in five innings. He was pulled by Rangers manager Ron Washington after 70 pitches.

Yeah, the Rangers lost the game 2-0 to the Astros, but Ross was clearly the story, from the visiting teams’ perspective.

Ross had relieved Holland at Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday and threw 42 pitches. The Rangers needed a starter for Saturday when Miles Mikolas was scratched with shoulder fatigue.

Ross became the starter despite the number of pitches he threw, and the objective was for him to throw no more than 60.

When the fifth inning was over Saturday night, Washington gave Ross a hug in the dugout.

“I know he was mad at that,” Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said of Ross getting relieved by Phil Klein.

It happens.

“He said that he had 100 pitches in him,” Washington said of taking Ross out. “Yeah, he was serious."

Saturday night was another chance for Ross to prove he belongs here. He started the season in the Rangers’ rotation, moved to the bullpen and was demoted to Round Rock on June 17. Ross received another chance Aug. 14 against the Tampa Bay Rays and struggled in his start, in which he allowed six runs, all earned over 4 1/3 innings of work. He left with his team trailing 6-2.

Coming into his evening, Ross’ ERA was 6.06. As a starter, Ross was 1-5 with a 5.40 ERA.

“The big thing for me is I want to start, and I felt like I battled my tail off in Triple-A for it,” Ross said. “I felt like this opportunity right here might not come back around, and I wanted to show I’m ready to go and that I feel like I can do it. I didn’t want to spoil it in the sense of I did what I did when I pitched against Tampa Bay.”

Ross didn't make anybody forget his season to this point, but he did well enough to give the front office hope he's somebody to rely on for next season.

“It was about Robbie Ross and protecting him,” Washington said. “We certainly had some fresh arms down in that bullpen, and I thought Klein threw the ball well. It was just who is going to make the first mistake, and we did.”

Ross pitched a no-hitter through five innings on four hours of sleep, two wasted hours sitting in the hotel lobby and a left arm that will ache Sunday morning.

“I was feeling good, felt strong. I was out there trying to battle for us," Ross said. "Obviously they said, 'Hey, we want you to stay healthy. It's not about just right now -- it's about the future.' So I battled them to try and get back out there and do what I had to do, but that’s the way it goes."