HOUSTON -- Nelson Cruz's 10th-inning homer provided the final margin, yet the Texas Rangers were left talking about the play of two rookies that helped them end a three-game skid.
Left-hander Derek Holland gave the Rangers a strong start and shortstop Elvis Andrus came up with big plays late to help Texas win 6-5 in 10 innings over the Houston Astros Friday night.It was hard to say which rookie played best."I'd have to go with Elvis," Holland said. "He made so many plays and that was really big. I felt good but my teammates made plays behind me so I'd say Elvis was rookie of the day."Manager Ron Washington wouldn't argue."Both of the rookies played well," Washington said. "But that double play Elvis started in the eighth inning, that saved us."The Astros had two men on with one out when Andrus went hard to his right, stabbed a sharp grounder by Miguel Tejada and had it flying to second baseman Ian Kinsler at lightning speed."I just tried to get it over as quick as I could," Andrus said. "I didn't know if we could get two or not but I was hoping."Holland was equally impressive for five innings, shutting Houston out until Lance Berkman homered to chase him in the sixth."[Holland] was as good as advertised," Washington said. "He pounded the strike zone and just got a slider up a little to Berkman. The guy [Berkman] is a great hitter."Holland agrees."I felt very good," Holland said. "I didn't run out of gas. Just one pitch took me out of the game. It was a slider and I left it up."Holland gave up three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four and was never in trouble until the sixth.He even impressed Berkman, who was told many people consider Holland a rookie sensation."I can see why," Berkman said. "The guy throws 95 mph from the left side. It seems like five or six years ago, if a lefty threw 90, that was hard. Now they've got guys all over the league throwing 95 from the left side. He's one of them. His stuff is great."Manager Cecil Cooper also praised Holland."We faced a pretty good looking left-hander," Cooper said. "I thought he really pitched well and didn't give us much. It was a great effort from him and from our club."We kept battling and gave ourselves a chance. We had first and second with one out and all we needed was a base hit, but we just didn't get it."Cruz's ninth homer of the season came off LaTroy Hawkins (1-2), who pitched the 10th inning.Darren O'Day (2-0) threw 1 2/3 perfect innings for the win. Frank Francisco, who was activated from the disabled list before the game, pitched the 10th to earn his 10th save in 10 tries.Texas built a 5-0 lead before Houston tied it with three runs in the sixth and two in the seventh.Fellow rookie Felipe Paulino started and allowed four runs and seven hits and two walks, striking out three. Paulino is now 0-4 with a 5.33 ERA in five starts.Texas got on the scoreboard with RBI singles by Michael Young and Andruw Jones in the third inning.In the fourth inning, Andrus hit the first pitch he saw so hard, left fielder Carlos Lee never moved as he watched it sail into the Crawford Boxes. It was Andrus third home run of the season and gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead.David Murphy's single chased Paulino for reliever Wesley Wright in the sixth inning. Jarrod Saltalamaccchia then hit Wright's first pitch out in left for a two-run homer that made it 5-0.Houston closed it to 5-3 with Berkman's three-run homer in the sixth. It was Berkman's eighth homer of the season.The Astros tied it 5-5 in the seventh inning on RBI singles by Geoff Blum and Michael Bourn.
Vicente Padilla was scratched from the Rangers lineup with a strained right shoulder and placed on the disabled list. Francisco was activated off the disabled list to take Padilla's spot on the roster. CF Josh Hamilton returned to the lineup after missing three games with a strained left groin. Astros RHP Brandon Backe will make another rehab start at Triple A Round Rock Saturday. Backe has been on the DL since March 27 with a left intercoastal strain. ... Blum has had only one error in the last 76 games since July 26 of last year. His .994 fielding percentage in that span is the best among major league third basemen.