ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — An erratic inning from a reliable reliever led to a dramatic ending in Arlington on Wednesday night.
Elvis Andrus hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning to score pinch runner Adam Rosales and give the Texas Rangers their major league-leading 40th comeback win of the season, 5-4 over the Houston Astros.
As Andrus came up to bat with one out and the bases loaded, the Astros moved left fielder Chris Carter to first base to add a fifth infielder. But Andrus instead sent a ball soaring into left-center field for the fourth game-ending hit of his career.
The AL West-leading Rangers (74-53) moved a season-high 21 games over .500 and hold a 2 1/2-game lead over the Oakland Athletics in the division.
During a wild eighth inning, Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers gave up three hits, one walk, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches to surrender the lead.
“I was tense. Scheppers did a good job when he came in to get two [outs], and then just couldn’t find the strike zone after that,” said manager Ron Washington following the game. “We just kept battling and things fell in our favor there in the ninth inning.”
Reliever Jason Frasor secured the final out of the eighth inning, and closer Joe Nathan (4-2) shut down the Astros in the ninth to get the win.
The Texas pitching staff has allowed five runs or less in 20 consecutive games.
Chia-Jen Lo (0-1) took the loss for Houston, which was swept in the series and has lost eight-straight to the Rangers.
Scheppers allowed a hit to open the eighth and quickly erased it by getting L.J. Hoes to ground into a double play. Then the bottom fell out for the Texas right-hander.
Jose Altuve singled, advanced to third on the two wild pitches and scored on Carter’s bloop single to pull the Astros to 4-3. Scheppers then hit Matt Dominguez on the left shoulder to load the bases before throwing a pitch that glanced off Max Stassi’s shoulder and into his face, knocking his helmet to the ground.
Jason Castro scored to tie the game 4-4 and give Stassi — who was clearly bleeding as he was led off the field — the first RBI of his career. He was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.
Craig Gentry homered and scored three times for Texas, one on a perfect squeeze bunt by Andrus in the seventh that gave Texas a 4-2 lead.
Castro homered and scored three runs for the Astros.
Texas starter Derek Holland pitched six-plus innings, leaving in the seventh after giving up a single to Castro and consecutive walks to load the bases with no outs. Joakim Soria came on in relief and got Stassi to ground into a double play, scoring Castro to trim the Astros’ deficit to 3-2.
Holland gave up four hits and two earned runs while striking out five and walking three.
Astros starter Erik Bedard pitched 4 1-3 innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits with four walks.
NOTES: Rangers rookie RHP Nick Tepesch, on the DL since July 6 with right elbow inflammation, said he felt good after a bullpen session. He expects to throw live BP on the team’s road trip that starts Friday. … LHP Travis Blackley will apparently stay in the Texas rotation. “As of right now, he’s going to get his next start,” manager Ron Washington said. Blackley threw 66 pitches over four innings Tuesday night in place of injured Alexi Ogando. The next turn for that spot is Monday night at Seattle. … In the second, Bedard took an Adrian Beltre come-backer off the inside of his right ankle, but he stayed in the game after being evaluated by team trainers. In the seventh, Holland took a Jason Castro line drive off his left forearm, but he also remained on the hill after being examined. … Alex Rios stole second in the sixth inning, giving him 30 stolen bases — his third season reaching that plateau.
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