Houston (38-36) at Texas (42-29)

Windy Currently: Arlington, TX, US
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Sun Jun 27, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Texas Rangers look to extend their season-high winning streak to nine games as they try to complete a three-game sweep over the struggling Houston Astros.

Texas has taken the first two games of the “Lone Star Series,” including an 8-7 win Saturday.

All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock had four hits, including the go-ahead homer with two outs in the eighth inning, giving the Rangers their eighth straight win.

Blalock is hitting .483 (28-of-58) over his last 15 games.

Manager Buck Showalter talked about the difficulty of what Blalock is accomplishing. Then he smiled when somebody asked if the 23-year-old slugger was the best overall third baseman in the league.

“I’m really happy with him,” Showalter said. “I trust Hank, I trust the way he approaches the game. He’s going to be as good as he’s capable of being every day.”

Kevin Mench also homered and Alfonso Soriano was 4-for-5 for the Rangers, who lead the AL West on June 26 for the first time since 1999—the last year the club won the division title.

Houston, which claimed the series between the teams the last two seasons, has lost two straight games since acquiring outfielder Carlos Beltran from Kansas City in a three-way trade in which they gave up closer Octavio Dotel.

Beltran was 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. In his debut Friday night, he had two of Houston’s three hits and scored the only run in a 3-1 loss to the Rangers.

The Astros tied the game at 7 on Saturday when Lance Berkman’s three-run double capped a four-run outburst in the seventh inning.

“If there’s any silver lining, we battled back from a four-run deficit when it didn’t look like we’d get much done,” Berkman said. “Whoever we’ve been playing has been getting all the breaks. … The game is not fair, it’s maddening.”

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Starting Pitchers

R. Oswalt COL vs. R. Drese HOU
20-10 Record 14-10
3.49 ERA 4.20
206 K 98
62 BB 58
1.24 WHIP 1.40