HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas Rangers got off to a great start Friday night against the Houston Astros then things fell apart late.
They led in the first inning after a two-run homer by J.P. Arencibia. It took until the eighth inning for the lead to disappear in a 4-3 loss after another tough night by the bullpen.
Robbie Grossman’s two-run homer gave the Astros the lead in the eighth as the Rangers fell to 6-34 when leading after seven innings. Their bullpen has blown 13 saves this season.
After Arencibia’s homer in the first, Rangers starter Miles Mikolas was limited to just five innings, allowing four hits, a run and three walks as he struggled to get outs.
A resigned Texas manager Ron Washington repeated the same phrase multiple times in his office after the game.
“They beat us,” he said. “It was a tough ballgame. We put up two runs in the first inning and just couldn’t get anything else.”
Chris Carter hit his 25th home run for Houston, which trailed 2-1 entering the eighth inning. Jon Singleton singled with no outs and Grossman, who finished with three hits, launched a 92 mph fastball from Neal Cotts (2-6) into the Crawford Boxes in left field with one out to put the Astros on top.
Cotts had only allowed three earned runs over his last 14 games entering Friday’s game.
“They beat our best pitcher that we had in that situation, so you’ve got to give them credit,” Washington said. “They beat us.”
Gregorio Petit’s double with two outs added an insurance run.
Jose Veras (2-1) threw a perfect eighth for the win. Chad Qualls allowed a run in the ninth and there were runners at first and second with one out when Daniel Robertson grounded into a double play to end the game and give Qualls his 13th save.
The win extends Houston’s streak over the Rangers to six games, the longest in franchise history. The Astros are 7-3 against Texas this season and remain ahead of the last-place Rangers in the AL West.
Carter cut the deficit to one with his two-out shot in the fifth.
“I was kind of hoping it might hit the rafters and fall in for a double,” Mikolas joked. “I’m not sure what the ruling on that is, but he got it up there.”
Carter, who homered twice Thursday night, has 12 home runs since July 4 and has upped his batting average from .181 to .225 since July 1.
Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer allowed six hits and two runs in seven innings.
Houston second baseman Jose Altuve left the game with discomfort in his neck. Altuve didn’t appear to be injured when he batted in the fifth inning, but was replaced by Petit for the start of the sixth.
He said after the game that he thinks he may have slept on it wrong and expects to be back in the lineup on Saturday.
Texas catcher Geovany Soto (groin) was activated from the disabled list on Friday and started his first game since July 21. It was just his fourth game after missing the first part of the season following surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee in March. He went 0 for 3 with a strikeout.
Rangers: Outfielder Alex Rios did not play Friday and will also be out of the lineup Saturday after he re-aggravated a sprained right ankle on Wednesday. “I could play on it, but I’d rather give it a little rest to make it feel better,” Rios said. Washington said Rios was available to pinch-hit and he will definitely be back in the lineup Sunday.
Astros: Outfielders Dexter Fowler (back) and George Springer (quadriceps) are inching closer to being activated from the disabled list. Fowler started a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday night and Springer was back in Houston after returning from a rehabilitation assignment at Single-A Quad Cities.
Yu Darvish will start for Texas against Scott Feldman on Saturday. Darvish is 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA in three career starts at Minute Maid Park. He came within one out of a perfect game in Houston on April 2, 2013. He has a 2.16 ERA in his last four starts to lower his ERA to 2.82.
Feldman, who spent his first eight seasons with Texas, threw the third complete game of his career in his last start, allowing eight hits and one run in a 6-1 win over Toronto.