HOUSTON (AP)—The Texas Rangers got timely hitting, mistake-free defense and a strong performance from their starting pitcher on Friday night.
If only they could get all three in the same game more often.
“I’ve been on losing teams before and it’s crazy,” said the 30-year-old Vazquez. “Nothing clicks. One day you pitch well and you don’t hit. Another day you hit, it’s backwards. It’s hard to put it together.
“But it’s still early,” he said. “If everyone figures it out, we still have a chance.”
Tejeda (4-3) handled the Astros almost as well as the Giants’ Tim Lincecum did the previous night. Craig Biggio ended Tejeda’s no-hit bid—and an 0-for-16 slump—with a single leading off the sixth. The first three Astros reached in the sixth and Tejeda left after striking out six with four walks and a hit batter.
“We just didn’t swing the bats the first half of the game,” Houston manager Phil Garner said. “We woke up the last half, but we were already in a bind.”
Tejeda was making his first start since May 9, when he was having soreness in his forearm. He threw 95 pitches on Friday night with no problems.
“The fastball was good, the changeup was good, the slider was good,” he said. “Everything was together.”
The victory eased the bad news from earlier in the day that 3B Hank Blalock will miss 10 to 12 weeks because of a condition that affects the nerves in his shoulder and neck. Blalock will have surgery on Monday. Jerry Hairston Jr. also missed Friday’s game with a pinched nerve in his shoulder.
Vazquez replaced Blalock and Cruz started in left field, where Hairston had made three starts this season. Cruz batted fifth, where Blalock usually hits.
“I just want to be in the lineup,” said Cruz, who hit his first homer five days ago against the L.A. Angels. “I’m starting to feel more comfortable.”
Houston rallied against the Rangers bullpen, but Eric Gagne pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his second save in two tries.
The Rangers put a runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings off Astros starter Matt Albers (1-3). The Rangers finally scored in the third when Lofton singled, Michael Young walked and Sosa drove a double down the left-field line.
Cruz followed with an opposite-field homer and Vazquez, called up from Triple-A Oklahoma on May 17, then hit one to the same section of the right-field seats to make it 5-0.
The Rangers had back-to-back homers for the second time this season. Mark Teixeira and Sosa did it at Toronto on April 27.
Albers finished the inning, but was done for the night. Dave Borkowski relieved Albers in the fourth and Lofton hit a one-out drive to deep center that rookie Hunter Pence dropped as he climbed Tal’s Hill.
Lofton reached third on Pence’s error and Young singled to put Texas up 6-0. Lofton added his RBI single in the sixth for a 7-0 lead.
“Kenny led the way,” said Texas manager Ron Washington. “He had some great at-bats and that made it nice.”
Washington replaced Tejeda with side-arming Scott Feldman and Lee hit the first pitch straight back to the mound. Feldman threw home to force out Biggio and catcher Chris Stewart threw to first to complete the double play.
With a full count on Luke Scott, Feldman was called for a balk and Lamb scored to make it 7-1. Scott struck out swinging on the next pitch.
Pence extended his hitting streak to six games with a leadoff double in the seventh and scored on Ausmus’ one-out single. Pinch hitter Mark Loretta lined out to Vazquez at third and with Ausmus running with the pitch, Vazquez threw to Teixeira at first for the easy double play.
Texas reliever Frank Francisco started the eighth and Biggio led off with a double off the left-field wall, his 2,968th career hit. Lamb then doubled to left-center to cut the Astros’ deficit to 7-3. Lamb scored on Lee’s groundout.
Biggio hit his 650th career double. He ranks seventh on the career list. Biggio also scored his 1,800th career run. … Ausmus got his fifth RBI of the season and just his second this month. … Cruz snapped out of a 1-for-23 slump in his previous seven games. … Sosa has 11 RBIs in his past 10 games.