With the most productive inning in the major leagues this season backing their latest outburst, the Texas Rangers have been boom or bust at the plate during their homestand.
They might find a big inning a bit harder to come by against Houston's impressive rookie.
Jarred Cosart looks to continue his strong start on Tuesday night when he tries to lead the Astros to just their third victory in 19 games against the explosive Rangers.
A.J. Pierzynski had a season-high four hits and Leonys Martin added three as AL West-leading Texas (72-53) used an 11-run third inning to take Monday's opener 16-5.
The last team to score that many runs in an inning was St. Louis, with a 12-run seventh in a 12-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on July 21, 2012. The Rangers, who remain a half-game ahead of Oakland, topped their previous season high in runs set just two days earlier in a 15-3 win over Seattle."We went up and down the lineup," manager Ron Washington said. "When we can do that is when we can be at our best."
Pierzynski has gone 10 for 17 with two home runs and seven RBIs in his last four games versus the last-place Astros (41-83), while Martin is batting .368 during a 10-game hitting streak against them.
While they've totaled five runs and batted .196 in their three losses on this homestand, the Rangers have put up 36 runs and hit .327 in their three victories. Despite two outbursts in three games by Texas, Pierzynski's home run in the seventh inning Monday was only the team's second in the past eight.
Texas isn't likely to break out with the long ball against Cosart (1-0, 1.15 ERA), who has yet to allow a home run in his six starts.
Cosart is also the first pitcher in Astros history to begin his career with six consecutive starts of five-plus innings while allowing two or fewer runs, but he hasn't received a decision in his last five while being given a total of eight runs of support.
The right-hander put together another strong outing Wednesday, allowing three hits over six shutout frames in a 2-1, 11-inning win at Oakland. He struck out four and only walked one, an improvement after issuing 17 free passes over his previous five starts.
"I've been able to miss some more bats, too, so it's just keeping the ball down in the zone and trying to pitch more instead of just throw," Cosart told the team's official website.
Cosart has an 0.67 ERA in four road starts.
Now he'll attempt to end Houston's struggles against the Rangers, who have outscored the Astros 124-67 while winning 16 of 18 meetings dating to May 2012.
Blackley, who made 42 relief appearances for the Astros this season, has gone 6-7 with a 6.00 ERA in 23 career starts. He'll make his first since allowing one run over six innings in a 3-1 win over the Rangers on Oct. 2 while he was with Oakland.
That came just five days after he was chased after allowing five runs in one inning in Arlington.
The Astros have been swinging the bats well as of late, averaging 6.3 runs while batting .320 over their last four games.
Jason Castro went 2 for 3 in Monday's opener, leaving him 13 for 25 in his last seven games against Texas.
|August 07, 2013||Jonathan Villar||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained hand|
|July 31, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|July 27, 2013||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left quad tightness|
|July 27, 2013||J.D. Martinez||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|July 23, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Left game - mild left calf strain|
|July 09, 2013||Ronny Cedeno||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left toe|
|August 16, 2013||Alexi Ogando||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 03, 2013||Nelson Cruz||Day-to-Day||Lower body|
|July 12, 2013||Justin Grimm||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right forearm|
|July 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||15-Day DL||Upper back strain|
|July 07, 2013||Lance Berkman||15-Day DL||Left hip inflammation|
|July 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||15-Day DL||Upper back strain|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Adrian Beltre just keeps chugging along for the Texas Rangers . He's making it look oh so easy, too.
Beltre doubled and scored in the second inning, and then hit a two-run homer in the sixth to power AL West-leading Texas to a 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
"This is what I'm supposed to be doing, right?" Beltre said. "I've been feeling better lately. Definitely."
Beltre's 26th homer came against rookie right-hander Jarred Cosart (1-1) and lifted Texas into a 3-2 lead. It was his 160th hit, one behind Miguel Cabrera for the major league lead.
"The only way I can really describe it, he's the MVP. He's having an MVP-caliber season," Ian Kinsler said. "He's one of the best players in the league on one of the best teams, and he does it night in and night out."
Beltre is hitting .434 (33 of 76) over his last 21 games, raising his season average 19 points to .326, third in the American League.
After a leadoff double in the second, Beltre went to third on a wild pitch and scored on an infield single by Alex Rios .
"He's been swinging the bat extremely well and been getting it done in situations when we really need him to get it done," manager Ron Washington said. "That's what Beltre is about, and it seems like every time we go down the stretch, he's right there ready to do it"
Matt Dominguez homered for Houston, which has lost seven in row and 13 of 14 against the Rangers.
Neal Cotts (5-2) struck out the first three batters he faced over 1 1-3 innings and was credited with the win. The lefty was the second reliever after Travis Blackley pitched four innings against his former team a week after being traded to Texas.
Joe Nathan struck out the side in the ninth for his 37th save in 39 chances.
Cosart allowed three runs over six innings, raising his ERA from 1.15 to 1.60. It was the first time in his seven major league starts that he yielded more than two runs.
"I thought command-wise, it was my best game," Cosart said. "I had command of two pitches, fastball and curve, and didn't have to use my changeup. They couldn't sit on one pitch."
Texas was down 2-1 when Kinsler drew a one-out walk in the sixth. Beltre then hit a drive to right for the first homer surrendered by Cosart in his 45 major league innings - and one that had the 23-year-old biting his glove in disgust.
"That pitch was at his head. It wasn't even a strike," Cosart said. "I didn't think he would swing at it."
Blackley was brought up from Triple-A Round Rock to start in place of right-hander Alexi Ogando , who was put on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
The 30-year-old Australian, who made 42 relief appearances for Houston, allowed three hits and two runs. The Rangers expected for him to throw around 65 pitches, and he threw 66, 42 for strikes.
"He did a good job," Washington said. "Other than (one pitch to Dominguez), he did what he needed to do, keep us in the game."
Chris Carter walked and scored on Dominguez's 17th homer in the second.
There were 11 pitches in the first, including a hard shot by L.J. Hoes that ricocheted off Blackley's foot toward the third base line. Jurickson Profar made a barehanded grab and threw in one motion to retire Hoes.
Astros manager Bo Porter quickly came out to unsuccessfully argue with umpire Lance Barksdale that Profar's throw pulled first baseman Mitch Moreland off the bag. Under the expansion of video review planned for next season, it was the kind of challenge Porter may have won.
Max Stassi, called up from Double-A Corpus Christi earlier Tuesday, made his major league debut as the designated hitter and got a single in the fifth. He also will remember what happened after the first of his two hits.
A comebacker by Marwin Gonzalez was snagged by reliever Jason Frasor , who turned and made a high throw that went off shortstop Andrus' glove and caught by second baseman Kinsler backing up the play. But Stassi, apparently thinking he was already out, wandered off second base and was tagged by Kinsler.
"He told me, `Bo, this never happened to me in no league, and it's not going to happen again,"' Porter said. "I told him if you are a forceout, you don't leave the base until the umpire says you're out."
NOTES: Stassi, a catcher, was called up after C Carlos Corporan was put on the seven-day concussion DL after being hit in the mask by a foul tip Monday night. Corporan was returning to Houston to see a specialist.