Kent has missed the last four games with a sore left wrist and for the second time in the series, Vizcaino delivered a key hit.
Vizcaino, who also was a teammate of Kent with Cleveland, San Francisco and the
New York Mets
, hit a two-run triple that put Houston ahead for good in Friday's 12-3 rout.
"That's what I want to do," Vizcaino said. "I just want to contribute when I have the chance. I was lucky to come up with a big hit in a big situation."
After Houston starter
(5-3) labored through 5 1/3 innings, manager
handed the game to his bullpen, which has helped Houston to a 28-2 mark when leading through seven.
came on in the sixth after Robertson issued three straight one-out walks. Saarloos ended the inning with a pair of strikeouts before allowing two hits in the seventh.
Saarloos struck out three and got his final strikeout when
swung at a pitch that hit his hands. But the pitch never hit the bat and first base umpire Brian Runge called strike three.
got the final two outs and two more in the eighth before giving way to closer
. After surrendering a leadoff single in the ninth, the hard-throwing lefthander notched his 21st save in 23 chances.
"Each guy picked the other up in this game," Williams said. "This was a team effort where a lot of different people contributed."
"The bullpen has been doing it all year," Saarloos added. "They've been picking everybody up. There are a lot of quality arms coming out of the bullpen. Whoever gets the ball on that night, you put a lot of trust in."
Actually, it's been close to three years that Houston's bullpen has been getting big outs. Since the start of the 2001 campaign, the Astros are 189-5 when leading after eight innings.
Wagner has not allowed a run in 22 of his last 25 outings, but has pitched 43 2/3 innings in 39 appearances this season. Last year, he pitched a career-high 75 innings in 70 outings.
"It would be real nice to see our starters pitch eight or nine innings," Wagner said. "I've never thrown this much. Once in a while, you'd like a day off."
Benoit pitched well for the Rangers, who have lost seven straight. In his first start in more than three weeks, the righthander limited the Astros to two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Despite issuing five walks, Robertson limited the damage to one run and four hits. But he got key outs throughout, getting
to ground out in the first after rookie
Robertson issued three straight one-out walks in the sixth and was pulled after throwin 100 pitches.
"Tonight wasn't me," Robertson said. "I felt like I made some good pitches that were borderline and just didn't go my way. With one through nine being solid guys, it's just a matter of making pitches and things going your way, especially in a close ballgame."
Robertson also got a key defensive play from Berkman in left field in the third. After
doubled, Berkman threw a perfect strike to shortstop
, whose relay throw to catcher
at the plate.
With the big effort from his bullpen, Robertson improved to 4-0 in his last nine starts since April 25.
Benoit, activated from the disabled list before the game, did not allow a hit until
singled off Young's glove at second base in the fourth. He tied a career high with eight strikeouts and lost his shutout in the sixth when Berkman sent his first offering into the second deck in right field for his 13th homer.
"I think tonight was one of the best nights, I've had all season," Benoit said. "It's unfortunate we couldn't score runs."
"I thought he was outstanding, especially against such a good club," Texas manager Buck Showalter added. "They're one of the better clubs in baseball. He stayed hard early, had some late life on his fastball."
Houston gave its relievers some breathing room with a run in the seventh. The Astros loaded the bases on a single, a sacrifice, and two walks.
then hit Berkman with a pitch.
The Rangers have dropped 19 of their last 21 games and are 4-22 since a seven-game winning streak. It is their worst stretch in team history over 20 games since a 2-21 slide in September 1972.
"When you're in a funk like we are, everyone is pressing a bit," Rodriguez said. "You can't will it to happen. This is one of the hardest working teams around and you've got to think that eventually things will click for us."