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Tepesch finally cracks win column as Rangers beat Astros

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers rookie pitcher Nick Tepesch needed a good antidote to get over a recent rough stretch.

The Astros are as good as any medicine in the American League to cure any ills, and an offensive explosion didn't hurt either.

Texas used three home runs, including a grand slam by Nelson Cruz to defeat in-state rivals Houston Astros 10-5 on Friday night to make a winner out Tepesch for the first time in nine games.

Cruz's bases-loaded slam in the second was sandwiched between two-run shots by David Murphy and Adrian Beltre in the first and fourth innings.

The Rangers have now won two straight.

"The guys gave me a lot of run support," said Tepesch, who improved to 4-6 on the season before exiting during a troublesome sixth inning.

Tepesch, who was 0-2 with an ERA above 9.00 in his last five starts, had a career-high nine strikeouts.

"It was a good night. Any time they're putting runs up like that makes my job a lot easier ... gives me more freedom to attack hitters."

Houston catcher Jason Castro was 3-for-4 with a run-scoring single in the Astros' four-run sixth inning. All the runs were charged to Tepesch, who gave up three of the seven hits allowed in the inning, including a two-run double by Chris Carter.

Tepesch left without recording an out in the sixth inning and continued a trend of having trouble the third time around lineups.

He said didn't execute on his pitches and that fatigue was not a factor on Friday.

Beltre's homer chased Houston starter Lucas Harrell (5-9), who struggled with his command in issuing six walks in 3 2/3 innings.

Harrell walked four in the first two innings, including two straight to precede Cruz's slam.

An error led to Beltre's at-bat in the fourth. Houston first baseman Brett Wallace dropped would have been the third out, a popup by Cruz.

"He just didn't have his fastball command today," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "Against a good-hitting ballclub like this, you fall behind in the count and get into some predictable fastball counts, they're going to put good swings on it."

Leonys Martin, who was 2-for- with a triple and a run scored, drove in Mitch Moreland with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 10-0.

"It was good to jump on them early to take the pressure off of Tepesch and allow him to pound the strike zone," said Murphy, who connected on his second homer in three games.

"It's good to see the offense explode like we're capable of. Hopefully we'll have a lot more like this."

Houston appeared poised to have a chance to get back in the game in the sixth when they scored four runs before an out was recorded.

Jose Altuve led off with a single to left. Brett Wallace followed with a walk. Castro drove in Altuve and scored on Chris Carter's two-run double.

With runners on first and second, Brandon Barnes lined out to center and Matt Dominguez grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Castro scored his second run of the game in the eighth.

"Anytime you allow guys to extend innings, especially a club like this ... you're asking for trouble," Porter said. "The walks definitely hurt."

Tepesch's strikeout total eclipsed a career high he set on May 12 against the Astros.

Russ Wolf relieved Tepesch in the sixth and pitched three innings, giving up three hits and one unearned run and one walk.

Jason Frasor worked a scoreless ninth for Texas, putting down the Astros in order.

Frasor has retired 11 of 12 hitters he's faced in his last four appearances.

Ian Kinsler reached base four times, including three walks and a single, and was officially 1-for-2 in five plate appearances.

After dropping two straight to Seattle earlier in the week, the Rangers are now working on a two-game winning streak against the team with the worst record in the American League.

The Astros have dropped seven of their last eight games.

"We feel like we're playing good baseball regardless of the results in the Seattle series," Murphy said. "We're nearing the All-Star break. We want to make a good final push and tonight was a good way to start it."

NOTES: Temperatures remained relatively mild in Texas terms. Tepesch's first pitch was made under clear skies and 94 degrees. ... Murphy's home run accounted for the Rangers' first runs in the first inning in 26 games. Texas had been outscored this season 40-19 in the first inning entering Friday's game. ... Harrell threw 103 pitches 3 2/3 innings. ... Cruz became the fifth Ranger with at least six regular-season grand slams. Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez each had seven. Dean Palmer and Rusty Greer both had six. ... Beltre hit his third home run in two games after not hitting one in almost a month. ... Rangers outfielder Martin carried a string of 16 straight successful stolen base attempts into the game. ... The Rangers are 5-1 against the Astros this season and have won nine of the past 10 meetings between the teams. ... The game marks the Astros' first in Arlington as a member of the American League. ... New Astros president Reid Ryan was a 17th-round draft pick of the Rangers in 1994 and played two seasons in the organization. He is in Arlington for the series.
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