HOUSTON – Houston starter Jordan Lyles threw four good innings on Sunday against the Texas Rangers.
Unfortunately for the Astros they came after a terrible first inning.
Colby Lewis allowed four hits in eight-plus innings and drove in two runs, and the Rangers took a five-run lead in the first inning before coasting to a 6-1 win over Houston.
Lyles (0-1) yielded nine hits and six runs — both season highs — in five innings in his third start. The 21-year-old, who has spent most of the season in Triple-A, walked three and struck out six.
"First inning, I didn't have a clue where it was going," Lyles said. "I have nobody to blame but myself. They were my mistakes, and I didn't stick to giving up one run instead of five."
Lewis (4-3) capped the Rangers' first-inning scoring with a bases-loaded, two-out single to center field to score two. The Rangers got to Houston starter Jordan Lyles early, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Josh Hamilton and adding two more on a single by Nelson Cruz before the hit by Lewis.
Houston manager Brad Mills said Lyles couldn't get the feel for the ball and had problems locating his pitches in the first inning.
"He said he really wasn't having a good bullpen, but he said that was normal," Mills said. "He usually gets out there and doesn't have a problem finding it and usually does it right away, and it didn't happen for him until later when he got going."
Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus hit consecutive singles in the first inning before Kinsler scored on the sacrifice fly by Hamilton. Michael Young hit a two-out double before Lyles intentionally walked Murphy to load the bases.
The walk backfired when Cruz knocked a line drive single to left field to score two and push the lead to 3-0.
Lyles then plunked Yorvit Torrealba before the two-RBI single by Lewis.
Kinsler grounded out to end the inning.
After the first inning, Lyles surrendered only one run on four hits. Lyles said his mistakes were over the plate in the first, but after the first they were down and away.
"He was starting to bury some of those breaking balls and slice those fastballs like he wanted to," Mills said of Lyles after the first inning. "He could bury it for strikes when he wanted to, and he could throw in some of his other pitches as well. He could become a pitcher rather than a guy who was trying to get a feel for his pitches like earlier on."
Lewis didn't allow a run until Jed Lowrie's solo shot to right field to start the ninth. He was replaced by Robbie Ross, who allowed one hit. It was the longest outing of the season for Lewis, who walked one and struck out six.
"He's a guy that isn't going to overpower you with anything, but he executed his pitches," Lowrie said. "He can make quick work of you."
The performance allowed Lewis to bounce back from a string of three straight losses, where he allowed a combined 19 runs and 23 hits.
David Murphy added a solo home run in the fifth inning, a day after hitting his first career inside-the-park homer for Texas.
Jose Altuve hit a leadoff double for the Astros before Lewis walked Carlos Lee with two outs. Lewis retired the next nine Astros after that, and Houston didn't have another baserunner until a single by Travis Buck with two outs in the fourth. But Lewis retired Chris Johnson to end that inning.
Lewis retired the side in the fifth before Altuve singled to start the sixth. He sent down the next nine Astros before he was chased by Lowrie's homer.
There was some confusion in the second inning when Young was batting with two out and two strikes. Young took a pitch for a strike, but the home plate umpire thought it was only strike two. After Lee and Lyles protested, holding up three fingers, he asked the first base umpire and realized it was the third strike and patted Young on the shoulder to leave.
Cruz singled in the ninth inning on a fly ball to center field, but was out when he passed Young on the basepath as Young headed back to first.
NOTES: Houston CF Jordan Schafer was doing much better on Sunday, a day after injuring his leg avoiding a collision in center field. Mills said he has a muscle strain on his lower right leg and expects him to return by Wednesday. ... Houston's Bud Norris is set to pitch against Matt Garza when the Astros and Cubs open a three-game series Monday.