Rangers 4, Astros 2

Adrian Beltre just keeps chugging along for the Texas Rangers.

He’s making it look oh so easy, too.

Beltre doubled and scored in the second inning, and then hit a

two-run homer in the sixth to power AL West-leading Texas to a 4-2

victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

”This is what I’m supposed to be doing, right?” Beltre said.

”I’ve been feeling better lately. Definitely.”

Beltre’s 26th homer came against rookie right-hander Jarred

Cosart (1-1) and lifted Texas into a 3-2 lead. It was his 160th

hit, one behind Miguel Cabrera for the major league lead.

”The only way I can really describe it, he’s the MVP. He’s

having an MVP-caliber season,” Ian Kinsler said. ”He’s one of the

best players in the league on one of the best teams, and he does it

night in and night out.”

Beltre is hitting .434 (33 of 76) over his last 21 games,

raising his season average 19 points to .326, third in the American

League.

After a leadoff double in the second, Beltre went to third on a

wild pitch and scored on an infield single by Alex Rios.

”He’s been swinging the bat extremely well and been getting it

done in situations when we really need him to get it done,”

manager Ron Washington said. ”That’s what Beltre is about, and it

seems like every time we go down the stretch, he’s right there

ready to do it”

Matt Dominguez homered for Houston, which has lost seven in row

and 13 of 14 against the Rangers.

Neal Cotts (5-2) struck out the first three batters he faced

over 1 1-3 innings and was credited with the win. The lefty was the

second reliever after Travis Blackley pitched four innings against

his former team a week after being traded to Texas.

Joe Nathan struck out the side in the ninth for his 37th save in

39 chances.

Cosart allowed three runs over six innings, raising his ERA from

1.15 to 1.60. It was the first time in his seven major league

starts that he yielded more than two runs.

”I thought command-wise, it was my best game,” Cosart said.

”I had command of two pitches, fastball and curve, and didn’t have

to use my changeup. They couldn’t sit on one pitch.”

Texas was down 2-1 when Kinsler drew a one-out walk in the

sixth. Beltre then hit a drive to right for the first homer

surrendered by Cosart in his 45 major league innings – and one that

had the 23-year-old biting his glove in disgust.

”That pitch was at his head. It wasn’t even a strike,” Cosart

said. ”I didn’t think he would swing at it.”

Blackley was brought up from Triple-A Round Rock to start in

place of right-hander Alexi Ogando, who was put on the disabled

list with right shoulder inflammation.

The 30-year-old Australian, who made 42 relief appearances for

Houston, allowed three hits and two runs. The Rangers expected for

him to throw around 65 pitches, and he threw 66, 42 for

strikes.

”He did a good job,” Washington said. ”Other than (one pitch

to Dominguez), he did what he needed to do, keep us in the

game.”

Chris Carter walked and scored on Dominguez’s 17th homer in the

second.

There were 11 pitches in the first, including a hard shot by

L.J. Hoes that ricocheted off Blackley’s foot toward the third base

line. Jurickson Profar made a barehanded grab and threw in one

motion to retire Hoes.

Astros manager Bo Porter quickly came out to unsuccessfully

argue with umpire Lance Barksdale that Profar’s throw pulled first

baseman Mitch Moreland off the bag. Under the expansion of video

review planned for next season, it was the kind of challenge Porter

may have won.

Max Stassi, called up from Double-A Corpus Christi earlier

Tuesday, made his major league debut as the designated hitter and

got a single in the fifth. He also will remember what happened

after the first of his two hits.

A comebacker by Marwin Gonzalez was snagged by reliever Jason

Frasor, who turned and made a high throw that went off shortstop

Andrus’ glove and caught by second baseman Kinsler backing up the

play. But Stassi, apparently thinking he was already out, wandered

off second base and was tagged by Kinsler.

”He told me, `Bo, this never happened to me in no league, and

it’s not going to happen again,”’ Porter said. ”I told him if you

are a forceout, you don’t leave the base until the umpire says

you’re out.”

NOTES: Stassi, a catcher, was called up after C Carlos Corporan

was put on the seven-day concussion DL after being hit in the mask

by a foul tip Monday night. Corporan was returning to Houston to

see a specialist.