HOUSTON -- One night after bashing three home runs in their series-opening victory over the Houston Astros, the Texas Rangers clubbed three more in an 8-7 victory on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
As he did on Friday night, Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz struck the game-tying blow, this time with a two-run blast in the sixth inning. Cruz cranked a solo shot in the sixth inning Friday night to spearhead Texas' comeback.
The Rangers (23-13) recorded eight extra-base hits in support of right-hander Yu Darvish, who allowed three runs on three hits and three walks with eight strikeouts over seven innings.
Darvish (6-1) didn't flirt with perfection, but Texas' six-run sixth against a pair of beleaguered Houston veteran pitchers ensured that near perfection wasn't required.
The Astros (10-27) rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning before Rangers closer Joe Nathan retired pinch hitter Chris Carter with a pop-up to shortstop Elvis Andrus to snuff the rally. With Robbie Grossman on first base, Carter represented the winning run.
The hype was inevitable surrounding Darvish and his return to Minute Maid Park, the scene of his near-perfect game on April 2. Darvish provided a glimmer of hope that another special night was in the offing, retiring the first seven batters before Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez snuffed any budding suspense.
Dominguez turned on a 1-0 fastball in the third and launched his first homer of 2013, erasing the Rangers' 1-0 lead in the process. Dominguez added a two-run blast to left field in his second at-bat in the fifth, lifting the Astros to a surprising 3-1 lead and revealing Darvish as human.
The Rangers rendered that lead short-lived, chasing left-hander Erik Bedard, who pitched exceptionally in his return to the rotation: two runs, four hits, a walk and seven strikeouts in five innings.
Then they bashed right-hander Philip Humber, who was making his second relief appearance following his demotion from the rotation earlier this week.
Cruz erased the deficit with a two-run home run to center field, the first of five consecutive batters to reach against Humber.
Mitch Moreland and Leonys Martin added triples while David Murphy recorded a run-scoring double. Andrus' RBI single completed Texas' cycle against Humber and ended his night with Texas leading 7-3.
NOTES: Texas' ERA (3.18) entering Saturday was the lowest for the franchise through 35 games since 1983 (also 3.18). ... Rangers left-hander Robbie Ross had gone 49 appearances without picking up a win before Friday night. At 7-0 for his career, Ross has the second-most wins without a loss for any pitcher in major-league history (Clay Rapada, 8, 2007-12). ... Humber switched from No. 59 to No. 21, which he wore while leading Rice University to the 2003 College World Series title.