Rangers 5, Astros 4

Elvis Andrus had never stepped up to bat with a fifth infielder

staring in at him. He still knew exactly what he wanted to do when

it happened to him for the first time Wednesday night.

With the bases loaded and one out – and with Astros left fielder

Chris Carter moved in to play first base – Andrus sent a ball

soaring into left-center field for sacrifice fly that scored pinch

runner Adam Rosales and lifted the Texas Rangers over the Houston

Astros 5-4.

”It made it easier. You don’t really have to hit it anywhere,

you just have to make sure you hit a fly ball,” he said. ”I had

to stay focused and stay sure of my swing. He threw me one high

enough and I was happy to be able to bring the run in and win the

game.”

It was the Rangers’ major league-leading 40th comeback win of

the season and the fourth game-ending hit of Andrus’ career.

The AL West-leading Rangers (74-53) moved a season-high 21 games

over .500 and hold a 2 1/2-game lead over the Oakland Athletics in

the division.

”We feel really cool in that situation and that’s the kind of

games that are going to teach you a lot,” Andrus said. ”That’s

the kind of games you’re probably going to play in the

postseason.”

During a wild eighth inning, Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers

gave up three hits, one walk, hit two batters and threw two wild

pitches to surrender the lead. But closer Joe Nathan (4-2) shut

down the Astros in the ninth to get the win.

The Texas pitching staff has allowed five runs or less in 20

consecutive games. But it looked dicey at times as both relief

pitchers Joakim Soria in the seventh and Jason Frasor in the eighth

came on with the bases loaded.

Only one of their combined six inherited runners scored.

”It’s very comforting,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said

about Soria and Frasor. ”You can’t say enough about experience,

and that’s exactly what they have.”

Chia-Jen Lo (0-1) took the loss for Houston, which was swept in

the series and has lost eight straight to the Rangers.

Scheppers allowed a hit to open the eighth and quickly erased it

by getting L.J. Hoes to ground into a double play. Then the bottom

fell out for the Texas right-hander.

Jose Altuve singled, advanced to third on the two wild pitches

and scored on Carter’s bloop single to pull the Astros to 4-3.

Scheppers then hit Matt Dominguez on the left shoulder to load the

bases before throwing a pitch that glanced off Max Stassi’s

shoulder and into his face, knocking his helmet to the ground.

Jason Castro scored to tie the game 4-4 and give Stassi – who

was clearly bleeding as he was led off the field – the first RBI of

his career. He was taken to a local hospital for further

evaluation.

”We will get a full report once they run all the tests,”

Astros Manager Bo Porter said after the game. ”We don’t have an

update right now but it was definitely a scary situation.

”That is a very painful way to get your first RBI.”

Craig Gentry homered and scored three times for Texas, one on a

perfect squeeze bunt by Andrus in the seventh that gave Texas a 4-2

lead.

Castro homered and scored three runs for the Astros.

Texas starter Derek Holland pitched six-plus innings, leaving in

the seventh after giving up a single to Castro and consecutive

walks to load the bases with no outs. Soria came on in relief and

got Stassi to ground into a double play, scoring Castro to trim the

Astros’ deficit to 3-2.

Holland gave up four hits and two earned runs while striking out

five and walking three.

Astros starter Erik Bedard pitched 4 1-3 innings, giving up two

earned runs on five hits with four walks.

NOTES: Rangers rookie RHP Nick Tepesch, on the DL since July 6

with right elbow inflammation, said he felt good after a bullpen

session. He expects to throw live BP on the team’s road trip that

starts Friday. … LHP Travis Blackley will apparently stay in the

Texas rotation. ”As of right now, he’s going to get his next

start,” manager Ron Washington said. Blackley threw 66 pitches

over four innings Tuesday night in place of injured Alexi Ogando.

The next turn for that spot is Monday night at Seattle. … In the

second, Bedard took an Adrian Beltre come-backer off the inside of

his right ankle, but he stayed in the game after being evaluated by

team trainers. In the seventh, Holland took a Jason Castro line

drive off his left forearm, but he also remained on the hill after

being examined. … Alex Rios stole second in the sixth inning,

giving him 30 stolen bases – his third season reaching that

plateau.