Rangers 8, Astros 5

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HOUSTON (AP)—The Texas Rangers didn’t miss their chance this time.

Rafael Palmeiro connected for his 509th career home run and Alex Rodriguez hit a tiebreaking, two-run triple as Texas rallied for an 8-5 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday.

After failing to score with the bases loaded and none out in the seventh inning of a 2-0 loss Saturday, the Rangers came through to end the season series against Houston on a winning note.

“This is a start,” Rodriguez said. “If we can focus on winning series, and get some rhythm and momentum going, we will be more focused. It starts with good pitching. We had that tonight after our starter got in trouble. Our other guys kept us in the game.”

The Astros still retained the Silver Boot trophy that goes to the winner of the annual series between the state rivals for the second straight season. Houston took this year’s series 4-2 and leads the all-time series 11-7.

“We did some good things today,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “It didn’t look good early, but we were finally able to score some runs. We needed some help in the ninth.”

Palmeiro’s leadoff homer in the seventh tied it at 3, tying him with Sammy Sosa for 17th on the career list.

In the eighth, Octavio Dotel (6-3) allowed a single to Michael Young and walked Hank Blalock before Rodriguez tripled over center fielder Craig Biggio’s head. Biggio fell down trying to chase down the hit.

“I don’t know what happened,” Biggio said. “I slipped and fell. It was a terrible play. I would have caught it if I hadn’t fallen down. I feel horrible. The situation was it was a tie game so if you want to blame this one on me, I’ll take the heat.”

Kevin Mench added an RBI single in the eighth for Texas and Juan Gonzalez hit a two-run single in the ninth.

Rosman Garcia (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh inning for his first major league victory. Ugueth Urbina struck out Richard Hidalgo with a runner on for his 21st save in 25 chances.

Ron Villone made his third major league start this season since being called up from Triple-A New Orleans and didn’t allow a baserunner until he walked Gonzalez to start the fifth inning.

After Palmeiro popped out, Mench hit a two-run homer for the Rangers’ first hit, cutting Houston’s lead to 3-2.

“I felt all right,” Villone said. “I got in a good groove, but then I left a couple of pitches up. It was just a couple of mistakes, but they have a pretty good lineup. You can’t make mistakes against a lineup like that.”

The Astros took a 3-0 lead in the first inning off Mario Ramos, who got his first major league victory in his last start. Ramos couldn’t find his control this time. He threw 39 pitches, 24 for balls, walked three and hit one batter in the first inning.

After Biggio fouled out and Eric Bruntlett grounded out to start the inning, Jeff Bagwell walked, Hidalgo doubled and Morgan Ensberg walked to load the bases.

Ramos hit his former Rice teammate, Lance Berkman, with a pitch to force home the first run, then walked Brad Ausmus and Adam Everett to force in two more runs for a 3-0 lead.

Ramos finally struck out Villone to end the inning after almost hitting the Astros pitcher with an inside pitch at 1-2. Ramos left after 3 1-3 innings, allowing two hits, three runs and seven walks.

Ramos, optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma after the game, said he’d learn from the experience.

“I was totally surprised, but I see why I was struggling,” Ramos said. “The bottom line is I didn’t make the adjustments. But I’m confident I will be able to get the ball back in the strike zone. That’s what I’ve done my entire career.”

Bagwell hit a two-run triple in the ninth off Francisco Cordero, cuttingTexas’ lead to 8-5.

Notes

The Rangers went 4-14 against NL teams this season. … Biggio doubled in the fourth and needs two doubles to become the first Astros player to reach 500. … Bagwell hit into his major league-leading 17th double play to end thefourth inning.

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