Astros 5, Rangers 0
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HOUSTON (AP)—After his last start, Taylor Buchholz noticed something in his delivery that needed to be adjusted.
Buchholz (3-3) had lost his last two starts, allowing eight earned runs in each game.
“I watched some video with Jim (Hickey, Astros pitching coach) after my last start,” said Buchholz, who walked none and struck out a career-high six in his first career complete game. “I noticed I was flying open a hair on my delivery. I was trying to make my pitches too nasty and I knew if I could stop doing it, it would make a difference.
“I had more command on my fastball than anything else. I knew I had good stuff today.”
Manager Phil Garner was impressed.
“I think that was about as good as you can pitch,” Garner said. “And it came against some very good hitters over there. It was a marvelous pitching performance. He just did a masterful job.”
His teammates liked the way Buchholz bounced back from two such bad outings.
“For him to come back after two poor games and pitch this well is something,” Brad Ausmus said. “He didn’t let those games bother him or his psyche. He saw today that he could come back and be as dominant as he was awful.”
Astros third baseman Morgan Ensberg agreed.
“To show that type of composure after two tough outings is pretty impressive,” Ensberg said. “I saw the same demeanor in him today that he showed in the last two games. He never changes. The guy is devastating. He’s just filthy.”
The Rangers, who are third in the American League in hitting with a .287 average, had never seen Buchholz.
“He was throwing strikes first of all and he kept his pitch count down,” Michael Young said. “We might have been over aggressive at times coming out of our game plan. He’s got good stuff. We needed to make some adjustments and we just didn’t do it today like we normally do.”
Texas Rangers manager Buck Showalter also liked what he saw from Buchholz.
“Overall their guy pitched real well,” Showalter said. “They didn’t need to score that much. His numbers are not reflective of the type of pitcher he is. I’m happy for the young man but I wish he had done it against someone else.
“He had command of his pitches and he even mixed in a couple of changeups. He got bored with our hitters, I guess.”
The Astros took two of three from the Rangers, but still have lost 11 of their last 16 games.
Ensberg and Jason Lane provided all the offense Buchholz would need, each hitting two-run homers.
Rangers starter John Koronka (4-2) had won four straight games since an opening loss to Detroit April 4. He had three no-decisions in that span.
Koronka lasted six innings and allowed three runs and five hits. He walked four and struck out three.
Ensberg made it 3-0 in the sixth when he hit Koronka’s first pitch into the left field seats. It was Ensberg’s team-leading 14th home run of the season.
Lane hit his homer in the eighth inning. It was his ninth of the season.
Brad Ausmus batted second for the first time this season and Eric Bruntlett replaced regular center fielder Willy Taveras for the second time as manager Phil Garner attempted to shake up his lethargic offense. … It was the first time this season the Rangers had lost the final game of a road series. Counting a one-game series in Boston, Texas was 7-0 in those games before Sunday. … Buchholz had pitched 8 2-3 innings against Pittsburgh on April 22.