Published May 19, 2012
HOUSTON – The Houston Astros are struggling on offense again.
After scoring 12 runs in a two-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Astros mustered only one run against the Texas Rangers on Friday night despite several chances for more.
Adrian Beltre homered and drove in two runs and Michael Young broke out of a slump with two hits and an RBI to lift Texas to a 4-1 win over Houston.
The Astros left eight runners on base — all in the first five innings — and failed to drive in a run in the second when they had the bases loaded with one out against starter Neftali Feliz.
Houston third baseman Chris Johnson said the Astros have to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities.
"We had guys on base, but when you play teams like this you have to get that big hit," Johnson said. "You have to get some runs across. One run isn't going to cut it."
Brian Bogusevic singled with one out in the second. Feliz then plunked Johnson in the back with a pitch before walking Jason Castro. Feliz worked out of the bases-loaded jam with a strikeout by Wandy Rodriguez and a flyout by Jordan Schafer.
"The big inning for us offensively was the second inning when we had the bases loaded with those walks, but we were unable to keep the inning going," Houston manager Brad Mills said. "Offensively, that was tough. Any time a guy allows you to get the bases loaded, you would like to score, especially something like that."
Jose Altuve walked in the third and scored on a two-out single by Jed Lowrie to get Houston within 2-1.
Altuve walked in the fifth, and a walk by Lowrie with two outs chased Feliz. He was replaced by Robbie Ross, who retired Bogusevic to end the inning.
"We tried to be a little patient today," Altuve said. "(Feliz) put some guys on base that had the chance to score runs, but he came back and threw pitches and got out of the inning."
Feliz allowed three hits and a run with five walks in 4 2-3 innings — his shortest start of the year.
"It seemed like effectively wild is a pretty good way of describing it," Mills said. "It's just that when a guy is throwing that hard, and he is all over the zone, it is hard to zone in and square up."
Feliz was relieved by Ross (5-0), who allowed one hit in 2 1-3 innings for the win. Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save.
The Rangers were up 3-1 when Beltre belted his eighth homer, a two-out solo shot to left-center in the seventh inning. Beltre put the Rangers on top 1-0 in the third with a sacrifice fly. He also doubled in the fifth and scored on Young's double to make it 3-1.
Young entered the game in a 0-for-11 slide and was 5 for 41 with one RBI in his previous nine games.
Facing a left-handed starter for the seventh time in their last 12 games, the Rangers got to Rodriguez (3-4) for a season-high 10 hits and three runs in six innings.
Rodriguez said he made quality pitches, but he added the Rangers have the best lineup he has seen this year.
"Wandy pitched pretty good," Mills said. "He gave us a quality start and was able to pitch through some things."
Josh Hamilton went 1 for 5, a day after his 16-game hitting streak ended. Ian Kinsler added three hits for the Rangers.
The crowd of 34,715 was much larger than what Houston has been drawing this season. Many fans were rooting for the Rangers, with chants of "Let's go Rangers!" breaking out sporadically and bellows of "Cruuuuuz" filling the park each time right fielder Nelson Cruz was at the plate. Some of the loudest cheers of the night came when Texas president Nolan Ryan, who pitched for both the Astros and Rangers, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Kinsler opened the third inning with a double, which bounced off the wall in center field. Hamilton singled with one out before Kinsler scored on the sacrifice fly by Beltre to make it 1-0. Hamilton stole second base before scoring on a single by Cruz to put Texas up 2-0.
Beltre and Young hit consecutive one-out doubles to tack on a run in the fifth.
NOTES: Schafer got his 13th stolen base in the first inning. ... Houston is the 14th different team the Rangers have played to start the season. Texas is the first team in major league history to begin a season playing a different opponent in each of its first 14 series, according to information provided by the Rangers from the Elias Sports Bureau. ... The series continues Saturday when Texas left-hander Derek Holland faces Lucas Harrell. ... The Astros have sold the rights of Triple-A Oklahoma City RHP Henry Sosa to the Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization.