Rangers 8, Astros 3

Justin Grimm kept telling himself to go out and just make

pitches in his major league debut for the Texas Rangers.

Even though he had never pitched above the Double-A level, the

right-hander kept the mindset that it was just a game with a better

defense and offense on his side. Particularly with those Rangers

bats.

Nelson Cruz hit a towering three-run homer the pitch after

Adrian Beltre’s two-run single and the Rangers went on to an 8-3

victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

”I’m more than certain he was dealing with a lot of butterflies

that first inning, but he settled down,” manager Ron Washington

said. ”He didn’t lose his poise, executed his pitches. That’s

really the gist of what he did.”

After giving up a two-out solo homer to Jed Lowrie in the first,

Grimm struck out five consecutive batters.

Though the 23-year-old Grimm had joined the Rangers two days

earlier, his contract was purchased from Double-A Frisco before the

game. It didn’t take long for him to settle in on the mound.

”Probably after that first inning. That was the hardest inning

I’ve thrown in my whole career,” Grimm said. ”The first couple of

pitches, I couldn’t tell you where they were going in the zone. …

I just told myself to go out there and make the same pitches.”

Rookie Lucas Harrell (6-5) held Texas scoreless until those

consecutive one-out pitches in the sixth, right after a botched

rundown loaded the bases instead of getting out the lead

runner.

Grimm allowed six hits and three runs over six innings. The

fifth-round draft pick from two years ago struck out seven without

a walk.

”He threw well. He was aggressive and he was around the zone,

especially for a kid making his debut,” Astros first baseman Brett

Wallace said. ”Usually they have some nerves. But he got out of

jams.”

Still, when Grimm threw the last of his 88 pitches, he walked

off the mound trailing 3-0.

Craig Gentry and Ian Kinsler had consecutive singles to start

the bottom of the sixth. They advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Elvis

Andrus before a big defensive miscue.

Harrell snagged Michael Young’s comebacker and had Gentry caught

up between third base and home. After the throw to Chris Johnson

pursing the runner, the third baseman’s toss to catcher Chris

Snyder was dropped and allowed Gentry to safely scamper back to

third.

”I thought Luke did a good job getting the ball back. Chris

Johnson gave the ball up because the guy was more than halfway

home,” manager Brad Mills said. ”When you’re having a tough time

getting some runs, there’s not much margin for error.”

Beltre followed by grounding a single through the left side of

the infield to cut the deficit to 3-2. Cruz then hit his ninth

homer, a 431-foot shot that landed deep in the Astros bullpen in

left-center field.

”It was an awesome experience,” Grimm said. ”I threw my hands

in the air and screamed.”

Grimm was pitching in place of Alexi Ogando, who will be out

four to six weeks after he strained his right groin running out a

bunt single in San Francisco last Sunday. Ogando had thrown three

perfect innings in his first start of the season while filling in

for Derek Holland, who was already on the disabled list with

shoulder fatigue.

With an off day Thursday, the Rangers haven’t said what they

will do when that spot in the rotation comes up again at the end of

next week. They could skip the spot, have Grimm make another start

or three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt – scheduled to make his fourth

minor league start Sunday since signing with Texas last month –

could be ready to join the Rangers by then.

”We haven’t had a chance to make that decision yet,”

Washington said. ”(Grimm) did what he had to do, kept us in the

ball game. … Because he performed, he’s in consideration.”

Harrell allowed five runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings. He

had won his previous two starts, games the Astros won 9-8 and

11-9.

Texas clinched the Silver Boot Trophy for the sixth year in a

row, having won four of five games this season before the series

finale between the Lone Star State rivals Sunday afternoon. They

will be division rivals next year when the Astros switch from the

National League Central to the American League West.

Houston led 3-0 in the fifth after Brian Bogusevic had a leadoff

double and scored on Justin Maxwell’s double before Jordan

Schafer’s RBI single. Lowrie’s 13 homers are the most among major

league shortstops.

Before their outburst in the sixth, the second night in the row

the Rangers had a five-run inning against Houston, only one runner

had even reached second base against Harrell.

NOTES: LHP Dallas Keuchel will make his major league debut

Sunday for the Astros. They will have to make a roster move before

Sunday’s game to add Keuchel, who starts in place of RHP Bud Norris

(sprained left knee). … The Astros said after the game that 1B

Carlos Lee (strained left hamstring) will be reinstated from the DL

on Sunday. Wallace will be sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma City. …

Young matched the Rangers’ career record with his 66th sacrifice

fly in the seventh.