Rangers 10, Astros 7

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HOUSTON (AP)—Rafael Palmeiro isn’t concerned about the Texas Rangers’ youth movement. He just keeps hitting home runs.

Palmeiro hit his 508th career homer, a three-run shot that led Texas to a 10-7 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.

“I’m playing with these young players,” Palmeiro said. “I’ve felt comfortable all year, the more I play the more comfortable I feel. I’m working hard even when I’m not playing (first base). I take it serious when I’m not playing at first so when I do play there I’m ready.”

Before the game, Texas slugger Juan Gonzalez rejected a trade to the Montreal Expos, exercising a no-trade clause in his contract three days after the teams agreed to a deal.

The Rangers wanted to obtain young prospects for Gonzalez, and general manager John Hart said they would continue with their rebuilding project.

“I don’t think it affected our team,” Palmeiro said. “We knew it was his own decision, he wasn’t listening to anyone. We just went out and played and didn’t really have anything to do with it.”

Gonzalez walked as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, his first action since the Rangers agreed to trade the two-time AL MVP.

“I said no today, I have no other comment,” Gonzalez said after the game.

Houston’s David Matranga homered in his first major league at-bat, the 86th player to accomplish the feat.

“I was walking on a cloud from the time I got on deck to the time I went into the batter’s box,” Matranga said. “All I could do was try to get my heart slowed down. I decided to take a pitch to see if I could see what he was doing.

“Then something told me he was going to come inside and he did and I hit it and the rest I don’t remember.”

Palmeiro moved within one homer of Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa for 17th on the career list. The Rangers snapped a 12-game road losing streak and beat the Astros for the second time in nine tries.

Texas narrowed Houston’s lead to 3-1 in the race for the Silver Boot, symbolic of the season series winner between the two state rivals.

With the Rangers leading 5-4 in the seventh, Palmeiro drove his 18th homer of the season over the right-field fence off Brad Lidge after Hank Blalock singled and Alex Rodriguez walked to start the inning. Palmeiro also had a sacrifice fly for four RBIs in the game.

Einar Diaz added a two-run single in the ninth for Texas. Jeff Bagwell homered in the bottom half.

Joaquin Benoit (3-3) pitched five innings. He allowed five hits and four runs.

Tim Redding (4-8) was the loser.

The Astros took an early 3-0 lead with a two-run homer in the first inning by Lance Berkman and a solo shot in the second by Morgan Ensberg.

The Rangers got two runs in the fourth inning off Kirk Saarloos. He walked Palmeiro to start the inning before an RBI double by Kevin Mench and an RBI single by Diaz.

Texas went ahead in the fifth on an RBI triple by Rodriguez and a sacrifice fly by Palmeiro for a 4-3 lead.

Matranga tied it at 4 in the fifth inning with a solo shot. He became the second Astros player to homer in his first major league at-bat. Jose Sosa also did it July 30, 1975, against the Padres.

Rodrigo Rosario won his major league debut June 21 against the Rangers but wasn’t as lucky in his second start. He held Texas to one run in two innings but was forced to leave with tightness in his right shoulder.

“It’s another game where we lose another starter,” Bagwell said. “That’s a tough thing to have to go to the bullpen that early. Every time one of our starters goes down like that, it’s tough on us. It’s not a good trend and hopefully it will stop.”

Astros manager Jimy Williams used starting pitcher Wade Miller as a pinch-hitter with two out and no runners aboard in the second. Miller walked.

Redding, normally a starter, pitched one inning of relief in the sixth and allowed an RBI grounder by pinch-hitter Mike Lamb to score the tiebreaking runfor a 5-4 lead. Redding allowed one hit and one earned run.


Texas hadn’t won a game on the road since beating Baltimore on May 29. … The Astros placed 2B Jeff Kent on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitisin his left wrist, retroactive to June 19.

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