Houston (29-35) at Texas (37-27)

Rain Currently: Arlington, TX
Temp: 43° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Thu Jun 18, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Neither team has swept the season series since this Lone Star matchup began in 2001.

The AL West-leading Texas Rangers get a chance to change that Thursday night.

The Rangers go for their sixth consecutive victory over the Houston Astros in the finale of this three-game set at Rangers Ballpark.

Texas (37-27), which swept a three-game series in Houston from May 22-24, defeated the Astros 5-4 in 10 innings on Wednesday as Houston native David Murphy(notes) slapped a game-winning opposite field single with the bases loaded.

“This gives us momentum going into the next game,” said Murphy, a career .293 hitter versus his hometown team.

Michael Young(notes) went 2 for 5 in Wednesday’s victory as the Rangers improved to 6-2 in interleague play. Young is batting .471 (8 for 17) in four games against the Astros this season. He is 10 for 13 with two homers lifetime versus Thursday’s scheduled starter, Brandon Backe(notes).

Ian Kinsler(notes) was 2 for 4 with two runs and two stolen bases. After a leadoff double in the first, he stole third and came home on a throwing error by Houston catcher Ivan Rodriguez(notes), who passed Carlton Fisk and set a major league record Wednesday by catching in his 2,227th game.

“It’s great he was able to break the record,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. “But it’s unfortunate that it didn’t happen on a good night for us.”

Rodriguez, a 13-time Gold Glove winner, committed another error in the fifth trying to throw out Omar Vizquel(notes) stealing second. Vizquel later scored on a sacrifice fly by Kinsler as Rodriguez had his first two-error game since Aug. 26, 2004.

Vizquel also made history Wednesday by tying Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio for the most hits by a Venezuelan-born player. Vizquel’s fifth-inning single off Russ Ortiz(notes) was the 2,677th hit of his 21-year career.

Vizquel is batting .323 in 26 games this season.

Backe looks to give Houston (29-34) its first win over Texas since a 7-2 victory on June 26. The 31-year-old right-hander makes his first start this season after Mike Hampton(notes) was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a strained left groin. Backe (0-0, 12.00 ERA), who missed the first 47 games with a strained ribcage muscle, was 9-14 with a 6.05 ERA in 31 starts for the Astros in 2008.

Backe last pitched in an 8-1 loss at Arizona on Friday when he gave up three homers and five runs over three innings.

He is 1-2 with a 6.52 ERA in three career starts versus the Rangers.

Texas counters with Vicente Padilla(notes) (5-3, 4.82), who goes for his fifth win in six starts following Friday’s 6-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The veteran right-hander struck out two and yielded four hits over five innings. He also walked three, including two free passes during a 29-pitch first inning.

“They worked him pretty good,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He was a warrior out there and hung in there.”

Padilla is 2-0 with a 1.80 in his last two starts against the Astros.

Lance Berkman(notes) is 0 for 7 in the series, but he has 10 hits in 18 career at-bats versus Padilla, including five doubles and two homers. Berkman is two RBIs shy of 1,000 for his career.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Backe Hou vs. V. Padilla Bos
0-0 Record 12-6
10.38 ERA 4.46
10 K 97
6 BB 54
2.08 WHIP 1.43


Thursday, Jun 18