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Rios contributes right away for Rangers

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- With 10 seasons as a solid major leaguer on his résumé, Alex Rios wasn't in desperate need of making a good first impression with his new Texas Rangers teammates.

That he did precisely that certainly didn't hinder his transition from the cellar to a contender.

Rios delivered the game-tying triple before scoring the winning run in the eighth inning of the Rangers' 5-4 victory on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

Rios finished 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a run in his Texas debut.

"It gives me a little bit of confidence and a little bit of motivation also," Rios said. "I feel like everyone in this clubhouse wants to win and any way that any of us can contribute is a big thing. So for me to do that is a big thing."

The Astros blew their sixth save in seven opportunities since trading closer Jose Veras.

In winning for the 11th time in their past 12 games, the Rangers (67-50) produced two late comebacks, starting by erasing a 3-1 deficit in the seventh inning when Elvis Andrus bashed his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left off left-hander Kevin Chapman.

After the Astros (37-78) pushed back in front with a single run in the bottom of the seventh, the Rangers scored twice in the top of the eighth.

Rios, acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Friday, followed an A.J. Pierzynski one-out double with a sinking liner that Brandon Barnes misplayed in center. Rios scored when Mitch Moreland hit a grounder to second base that Jose Altuve fielded cleanly before throwing home. But Astros catcher Jason Castro dropped the throw to allow Rios to score.

"I don't think the play was that difficult," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I just think that we were fortunate enough that the ball got dislodged. He (Castro) got the ball in time and when he whirled around and got ready to tag him (Rios), we were fortunate enough that it dislodged. He was out, but we caught a break."

While Chapman and Lucas Harrell (5-13) combined to allow four runs in three innings of relief, right-handers Joakim Soria and Joe Nathan worked one scoreless inning apiece. Nathan picked up his 34th save.

"It has been tough lately, but we are going to come back tomorrow, get better and keep working," Chapman said. "I was just out there trying to attack hitters and get ahead of hitters. Give credit to Andrus; he stayed on a pretty good pitch and hit the barrel to it."

Astros designated hitter Chris Carter, who had just one multi-hit game since the start of July, was the subject of a lengthy discussion led by Houston manager Bo Porter during his pregame media session. With Carter mustering only two hits in 31 at-bats heading into the game while accumulating strikeouts at a record pace, his slump was relevant.

Right on cue, Carter drilled a single that just missed clearing the left-field wall in his first at-bat before launching his 20th home run in his second, a solo shot down the line in left leading off the fourth inning.

The blast increased the Astros' 1-0 lead and came after Houston scratched across a run an inning earlier against Texas left-hander Derek Holland. Altuve doubled home L.J. Hoes before being erased at the plate by Leonys Martin after Castro singled to center field with two outs.

Houston right-hander Brad Peacock surrendered a solo home run to Pierzynski in the sixth but managed to elude additional trouble, allowing the one run despite walking four in six innings. He departed with a 3-1 lead and left a beleaguered bullpen to protect the lead.

It failed for a second consecutive night, continuing a familiar refrain since Veras and his 19 saves were shipped to the Detroit Tigers on July 29 for minor league outfielder Danry Vasquez.

"It's tough," Porter said. "Again, Peacock was solid, gave us a chance to win the game, put us in position to win the game, and our bullpen couldn't hold the lead."

NOTES: Astros LHP Travis Blackley, designated for assignment on Friday, was outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. He has three days to accept the assignment or elect free agency. Blackley was 1-1 with a 4.89 ERA in 42 games with the Astros this season. ... Washington explained his reasoning behind choosing Engel Beltre over Joey Butler as his fifth outfielder after optioning Butler to Triple-A Round Rock. With three right-handed hitters already on his bench, Washington opted to keep the left-handed hitting Beltre.
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