Astros 2, Rangers 0

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HOUSTON (AP)—The Houston Astros’ bullpen bounced right back and carried them to another victory.

Jeriome Robertson won his fifth straight decision and Adam Everett’s RBI single snapped a scoreless tie in the fifth inning as Houston beat the Texas Rangers 2-0 Saturday.

The Astros’ bullpen, roughed up in a 10-7 loss to the Rangers on Friday night, rebounded as Brad Lidge pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh and Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner each pitched a perfect inning to finish it off.

“I told them I was going to pitch, I was embarrassed about last night,” Wagner said. “I stunk. I mean, they’ve got good hitters, but I didn’t show them much last night. I felt like I threw 110 pitches last night. It was not one of my shining moments.

“I felt much better today.”

Wagner struck out Juan Gonzalez to end the game.

The Astros snapped a four-game losing streak, equaling their longest of the season, and captured the Silver Boot, which goes to the winner of the annual series between the state rivals.

It was Houston’s second shutout this year. The other came when a record six pitchers combined on a no-hitter in an 8-0 victory over the New York Yankees on June 11.

“Basically, it’s a win for the team,” Robertson said. “You get little bonuses which is nice, but I don’t care if the win goes to me or the bullpen. I felt good today. Probably the location of my pitches was what was so good and I got some good double-play balls.”

Robertson (6-3) also beat the Rangers 3-1 on June 22 to complete a three-game sweep at Texas. Houston leads the season series 4-1, with the final game on Sunday.

Robertson benefited from a 1-5-4 double play to end the fifth. Pitcher Tony Mounce bunted back to the left-hander, who threw out the runner at third before Morgan Ensberg fired to first with second baseman Eric Bruntlett covering.

Robertson’s six innings and the bullpen’s efficiency helped the Astros’ staff recover from Friday night’s loss, when manager Jimy Williams used eight pitchers, tying a franchise record.

Robertson needed help after Rafael Palmeiro walked and Gonzalez singled to start the seventh. Lidge came on and allowed a single to Kevin Mench to load the bases before striking out Einar Diaz and getting pinch-hitter Hank Blalock to hit into a double play to end the inning.

Lidge gave up a three-run homer to Rafael Palmeiro on Friday night.

“I just wanted to get back on the mound because I was so upset with my performance,” Lidge said. “I was happy for the opportunity to come back after last night.”

Dotel needed only five pitches to get through the eighth and Wagner finished for his 22nd save in 24 chances.

“We missed our opportunity with the bases loaded and no out,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “One of the keys of the game was the outing Robertson gave them through six innings. You’ve got to tip your cap to Robertson.”

The left-hander walked two and struck out three. Texas was blanked for the sixth time this season.

After pitching four hitless innings, Mounce (0-2) loaded the bases in the fifth, helping the Astros take a 2-0 lead.

Richard Hidalgo led off with the first hit before Ensberg singled and was forced at second on a grounder by Lance Berkman. Gregg Zaun walked to load the bases and Everett’s single into left field snapped the scoreless tie.

After Robertson struck out, Craig Biggio followed with a hard grounder to third baseman Donnie Sadler, who bobbled it for an error that allowed Berkman to score the second run.

Mounce allowed two runs—one earned—and four hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out five.

“We had one good chance and we couldn’t come up with the big hit,” AlexRodriguez said. “We had a chance to do something special.”

Notes

Gonzalez went 2-for-4 in his first start since Texas agreed to trade him to Montreal on Tuesday. The slugger rejected the deal Friday, exercising a no-trade clause in his contract. … The national champion Rice baseball team was honored before the game. Owls coach Wayne Graham threw out the first pitch to Berkman, who was an All-American at Rice, and 2B Enrique Cruz greeted his father, Astros first base coach Jose Cruz, in front of the Houston dugout. … Texas 3B Mark Teixiera was a late scratch with stiffness in his lower back. Sadler moved from center field to third and Carl Everett started in center. … The Astros called up LHP Mike Gallo from Triple-A New Orleans and optioned LHPNate Bland to the Zephyrs.

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