HOUSTON -- Justin Smoak is getting more comfortable with each day in the major leagues.
The rookie slugger homered and drove in a career-high four runs Friday night, leading the Texas Rangers to a 9-3 victory over the Houston Astros.The Rangers scored eight times with two out while picking up their sixth consecutive road win on one trip for the first time since May 21-26, 1991. Josh Hamilton extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a two-run single.
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Smoak, one of the majors' best prospects, was mired in a 2-for-22 slide before the big night against Houston. He is batting .211 with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 52 games this season."I didn't start off good," he said. "You feel really good for a week, feel really bad for a week. It's something I've tried to get used to."Wandy Rodriguez (3-10) allowed six runs and four hits in three innings, becoming the first 10-game loser in the NL. He struck out two and walked four."I went out there thinking I could win this game because my arm felt great," he said. "But I think my mistake today is that I did not have command of all of my pitches. I need to throw two quality pitches and tonight I was missing with my location."Scott Feldman (5-6) pitched seven innings for the Rangers, yielding three runs and nine hits.Feldman helped himself at the plate in the third, hitting a one-out double that started a six-run rally. Elvis Andrus then walked before Michael Young grounded out. Two more walks to Ian Kinsler and Vladimir Guerrero forced in the game's first run.Hamilton added his big hit and Smoak hit a two-run double to deep right-center field. Matt Treanor made it 6-0 with a single to left field."The third inning was pretty much it with those walks," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "That was pretty much the issue. Wandy came out throwing the ball extremely well, hitting his spots and everything else. Then, after the pitcher got that double, things got rolling for them."Feldman downplayed his hit."Pretty much, if I get a hit, it's luck," he said. "I haven't hit on a regular basis. I haven't hit in so long, you just try not to look like an idiot up there. If somebody's on base try to bunt them over and try not to fall over like I did last game. Somehow I got the barrel on the ball."Guerrero went 0 for 3, ending his hitting streak at 13 games, but Hamilton had three hits and is batting .462 during his surge. He also has five homers in his last nine games and 23 RBIs in his last 16 contests.Smoak connected for his seventh homer in the fifth, hitting a two-run drive to left on Wesley Walker's first pitch to him."It was a great night for everyone," Smoak said. "When guys are getting on base ahead of you good things can happen."
Houston is 2-8 this season in interleague play. It has lost eight of its last nine games against AL opponents and six of its last eight interleague series over the past two years. ... Texas OF Nelson Cruz (left hamstring strain) was assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City for a rehab stint. ... The Astros signed RHP Michael Foltynewicz, one of their two first-round picks in the draft. ... Rodriguez entered the game 2-0 with 16 strikeouts against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park.