Astros 10, Rangers 8

Preview | Box Score | Recap

HOUSTON (AP)—The boos started after Gary Matthews Jr. and Alfonso Soriano each hit three-run homers, and got only louder as the Houston Astros ambled slowly to the dugout.

The Texas Rangers were leading 6-1 going into the bottom of the fifth, and the Astros already looked finished.

Morgan Ensberg responded with a grand slam to spark a seven-run fifth, helping the Astros rally for a 10-8 win over the Rangers on Saturday night.

“We thought we had the momentum,” Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock said. “They took it away from us.”

The Rangers and Astros combined for 13 runs in the nearly hour-long fifth inning, giving the sellout crowd of 42,889 an offensive outburst on fireworks night.

Houston, which beat the Rangers 7-5 on Friday, may finally be breaking out of its offensive slump after scoring 17 runs in the past two games. The Astros hadn’t scored so many runs in consecutive games since May 18-19 against Florida.

“We’ll certainly take that offense because we needed it tonight,” Houston manager Jimy Williams said. “We had some huge plays out there.”

The Rangers struck first, though, as Soriano and Matthews both homered in the fifth to give the Rangers a five-run lead.

But the Astros answered quickly in the bottom of the inning.

Texas starter Ricardo Rodriguez walked Jose Vizcaino and Lance Berkman, then shortstop Michael Young committed a fielding error on Jeff Bagwell’s infield hit to load the bases with two outs.

Ensberg then sent Rodriguez’s fastball off the balcony in left-center, pulling Houston within a run and chasing Rodriguez. Ensberg, who had gone 213 at-bats without a homer before hitting a go-ahead, two-run shot Friday, pumped his right fist as he circled the bases.

And a crowd that was booing just minutes earlier was back on its feet, cheering the improbable comeback.

“I just got caught up a little in the emotion out there,” Ensberg said. “This feels great, but I’m happy to do it when the team needs it more so. This stuff is contagious.”

Doug Brocail entered, and Adam Everett advanced on a bunt, Chavez singled and Lamb hit a two-run single to right. Vizcaino later singled in Lamb to give the Astros an 8-6 lead after five innings.

Young’s two-run homer off Chad Harville in the sixth tied it 8-all, but the Astros countered again.

Brocail opened the sixth with three straight walks before Chavez lined a potential double-play ball to Young, who flipped the ball to Soriano for the second out. Soriano then made a bad throw to first, and Chavez dove headfirst to the bag to beat the throw. Bagwell and Ensberg scored on Soriano’s error.

“Today was a good sign,” Bagwell said. “We got down, but came right back after that. We believe we’re a good team and we’re going to show it.”

Texas dropped a half-game behind Oakland for second place in the AL West, while Houston moved into a fourth-place tie with Milwaukee in the NL Central. The Astros trail division-leading St. Louis by six games.

David Weathers (1-1), who came to Houston from the Mets in the trade for Richard Hidalgo, pitched a scoreless 1 2-3 innings to get the win. Dan Miceli worked 1 1-3 innings for his first save.

Brocail (0-1) gave up five runs and five hits in 1 1-3 innings.

Jeremy Griffiths got off to a strong start in his Astros’ debut before the Rangers started connecting in the fifth.

The right-hander, also acquired in the Hidalgo trade, led off the fifth with two walks before giving up Matthews’ towering shot to right, giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead. He was removed after allowing two singles to Young and Hank Blalock.

Soriano then sent reliever Kirk Bullinger’s third pitch into the right-field seats for his 13th homer of the season.

Rodriguez made his first start for the Rangers this season after spending much of the year with Triple-A Oklahoma.

Rodriguez started the game by allowing singles to Craig Biggio and Vizcaino and walking Berkman, loading the bases. But Bagwell hit into a double play to end the scoring threat.

In the second inning, Ensberg scored on Rodriguez’s balk.

“These kind of games can be very frustrating,” Blalock said. “We did a good job of battling back, but I was a little disappointed that they put upthose seven after we put up six.”

Notes

After the game, Houston optioned Griffiths to Triple-A New Orleans and recalled INF Chris Burke from New Orleans. Burke should be in Houston for Sunday’s game. … C Brad Ausmus was rested for a second straight game, and Chavez was inserted into the lineup. Ausmus will likely return Sunday. … Houston CF Carlos Beltran is still looking for his first hit in Houston, two games after his career-high 15-game hitting streak was snapped. Beltran went0-for-5 with two strikeouts.

Related Articles