Astros 5, Rangers 3

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HOUSTON (AP)—The Houston Astros got back on track Friday night behind an unlikely standout and the return of an old one.

Adam Everett hit a two-out, three-run double in the eighth inning and closer Brad Lidge retired three straight in the ninth to get the save in the Houston Astros’ 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers.

The comeback victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Astros, who had lost 10 of their last 13.

Texas reliever Joaquin Benoit (0-1) walked the bases loaded before Everett’s shot just short of the left-field wall on a full count scored Lance Berkman, Brad Ausmus and Eric Munson.

Everett said his double marked the first time in his playing career that he’d hit a game-winner. Lidge converted a franchise-record 24 saves in a row last season, but had been temporarily removed from the closer spot after early season struggles. The save was his first since May 4 and his 12th of the season.

“I was just trying to prolong the inning and get the next guy up there,” said Everett, who bats eighth. “It’s one of those at-bats that I’ll always remember because it was my first game-winning hit. That’s pretty exciting.”

Astros manager Phil Garner was impressed by Lidge, who has been dogged by questions about his mind-set since Albert Pujols’ monster three-run homer that gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-4 win in Game 5 of the 2005 NL championship series.

“That was the heart of their lineup and he did a pretty good job,” Garner said. “His slider was sharp and his fastball was strong. This was as well as he’s pitched this year.”

Chad Qualls (2-1) tossed 1 2-3 perfect innings to get the win.

Gary Matthews Jr. hit his second double of the game in the seventh inning and scored on Michael Young’s single to give Texas a 3-2 lead. Matthews barely beat the throw home and collided with Ausmus at the plate.

Astros starter Roy Oswalt then walked Mark Teixeira before a single by Hank Blalock loaded the bases. Oswalt was replaced by Qualls to loud cheers from the crowd of more than 40,000. Qualls struck out Kevin Mench and got Brad Wilkerson to ground out to first.

“Tonight it was the walks and having lots of opportunities to score where we didn’t,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “Oswalt did a good job and having the bases loaded with one out and we couldn’t push anything across.”

Oswalt allowed three runs and a season-high 11 hits.

Texas pitcher Robinson Tejada, recalled from Triple-A to start Friday’s game, allowed two hits, one run and struck out six in five innings. He didn’t allow a hit until Morgan Ensberg’s double in the fourth in his first appearance against Houston. He was replaced by Rick Bauer, who allowed three hits and one run in one inning.

Garner shook up the lineup, making Willy Taveras the leadoff batter, but Houston still struggled, managing just five hits, until Everett’s shot in the eighth.

Houston reliever Russ Springer was suspended for four games Friday after throwing several times at Barry Bonds and eventually hitting the San Francisco star earlier this week, and Astros manager Phil Garner was suspended for one game by Major League Baseball.

While Springer began his suspension Friday, Garner chose to put off his until Monday because he didn’t what to leave the Astros while they were struggling.

“I know we’re a better club than we showed in that last series,” Garner said. “This is more like our team.”

Mark DeRosa rebounded from Thursday’s hitless performance and doubled to right in the third inning before scoring on a single by Young. He scored again in the fifth when he got on with another double and came around on Matthews’ single.

Houston tied it at 1 when Ensberg scored on a sacrifice fly by Preston Wilson in the fourth.

In the sixth, Ensberg got on when his grounder off Bauer bounced off the glove of third baseman Hank Blalock. Ausmus eventually singled in Ensberg to tie it at 2.


Astros OF Chris Burke began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Round Rock on Friday. He is scheduled to return to Houston on Sunday for an evaluation. He has been on the disabled list since May 6 with an injured left shoulder. … Rangers reliever Scott Feldman was replaced after facing just two batters in the seventh when he injured his ankle chasing down the speedy Taveras after a bunt.

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