ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Maybe the Houston Astros are ready to make another second-half run.
Eric Munson was 3-for-5 with a career-high five RBIs and Craig Biggio passed Babe Ruth on the career hits list as the Astros beat Texas 9-5 on Sunday night for their second straight victory to end what was a miserable road trip.
“Just mathematically speaking, we need the wins in the win column. But we also need to go home with a good feeling,” manager Phil Garner said. “This gives us a good feeling.”
The Astros (40-42), who started the second half of their schedule, have the same record as a year ago when they went to the World Series after winning the NL wild card in the final game for the second straight season.
Houston was 1-6 on this trip before clinching the Lone Star Series against the Rangers. The Astros play their last seven games before the All-Star break at home.
“We want to get back on track again,” Biggio said.
Munson, the designated catcher for Wandy Rodriguez (9-5), had a two-run single in the first inning and a bases-clearing double in a seven-run fourth. The Astros wrapped up the season series with a 4-2 advantage, taking home the Silver Boot trophy for the first time since 2003.
Kevin Millwood (8-5), who became the Rangers’ No. 1 starter when he signed a $60 million, five-year free agent deal in December, left in the middle of that fourth inning with a strained right biceps. The Rangers said the right-hander would be re-evaluated Monday.
Millwood said the pain felt like a cramp, but didn’t go away, preventing him from extending his arm and finishing his pitches.
“It feels a little achy right now. The doc doesn’t think it’s anything too serious,” Millwood said. “It wasn’t a sharp pain. It was kind of a dull ache … I think if it was something serious it would hurt a lot more.”
The last batter Millwood faced was Biggio, whose RBI single broke a 4-all tie and pushed him past Ruth for 36th on the hits list.
Biggio, the scrappy second baseman who has spent his 19 major league seasons with Houston, matched Ruth at 2,873 hits with a double in the second.
“To have your name associated with somebody like that, to me he’s probably one of the best representatives of the game of baseball ever, is pretty nice,” said Biggio, the designated hitter in the Astros’ final interleague game.
Lance Berkman, the only All-Star pick from the defending NL champions, was also 3-for-5 and four Astros had two hits. Houston finished with 16 hits, Preston Wilson the only starter without one after going 5-for-9 the first two games of the series.
Rangers pitching coach Mark Connor visited the mound after Biggio’s hit. Manager Buck Showalter and a trainer were then called out, and Millwood left the game after a very brief discussion.
Millwood allowed nine hits and six runs in 3 1-3 innings, his second-shortest outing this season, with one walk and no strikeouts. The AL ERA champion last season (2.86) for Cleveland has a 4.83 ERA through 18 starts in Texas.
In his previous start Tuesday at San Francisco, Millwood matched a career high by allowing 12 hits in six innings. That loss snapped his five-game winning streak over eight starts.
Rodriguez also equaled a career high in his previous start, 10 hits allowed at Detroit. The Rangers got five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings against the left-hander, who struck out three and walked two.
Brad Lidge got the final out for his 20th save in 23 chances.
Munson was in the lineup to catch Rodriguez, not because of regular catcher Brad Ausmus being in an 0-for-31 slump and without a hit since June 18. Munson had four RBIs when he homered twice June 11 against Atlanta, another game Rodriguez pitched.
Texas led 4-2 in the second after four straight run-scoring hits: doubles by Kinsler and Gerald Laird before a single by Jerry Hairston Jr. and a double by Matthews—whose other RBI double came in the fourth.
Biggio was hit by a pitch in the seventh, increasing his modern day major league record to 278. … The Astros and Rangers finished 7-11 in interleague play. … Millwood’s shortest outing was May 9 at home against Minnesota, when he allowed nine runs and nine hits in 1 1-3 innings.