- 142 wins
- 110 wins
HOUSTON -- If the frustrations of a growing losing streak, a series of rally-killing double plays and watching his cleanup hitter get robbed of extra bases on a terrific Josh Hamilton diving catch weren't enough to blow the top of Astros manager Brad Mills, a missed call at first base sure did the trick.
On a night when nothing went right for the home team, the Rangers were more than willing to take advantage of the blown call -- as well as the Astros' inability to come up with a big hit -- and send Houston to its fourth consecutive loss and seventh in its last eight games, 7-3, on Tuesday night.
Mills was tossed at the end of the sixth inning while arguing Jeff Keppinger had beat out a throw at first base to stay out of an inning-ending double play, sparing the manager from watching the Rangers cap their night of fun with solo homers in the eighth and ninth innings. The Astros have been out-homered, 59-21, at home this year.
"We can't give up any outs, especially against that team. That team hits," Keppinger said. "We need every out we can get."
Astros rookie Jordan Lyles, making his sixth Major League start, gave up a career-high 10 hits and five runs in six innings to fall to 0-3. He allowed three runs on four hits in the third inning, including a homer by Hamilton, and gave up two more in the sixth.
"I thought he was trying too hard," said Astros bench coach Al Pedrique, who spoke to the media postgame in place of Mills. "Once he got ahead in the count, it looked like he was trying to make the perfect pitch instead of letting it go, letting it happen like he's done before. He's still learning, but we feel like he threw the ball better. He was short a couple of times to make a quality pitch to get himself out of trouble."
Lyles, 20, thought he might have been too nitpicky.
"I walked the first batter of the game, and I don't know if I can recall if I've ever done that," he said. "I don't know what the ball-to-strike ratio was tonight, but I felt like it couldn't have been good. I missed a lot of spots. It might not have been balls, but I just left balls over the plate. That's just as bad as a ball."
Rangers starter C.J. Wilson, meanwhile, won his fourth consecutive decision by holding the Astros to seven hits and two runs in seven innings. He also recorded his first Major League hit with a triple in the third inning, making him the third opposing pitcher in the past two games to collect his first big league hit against the Astros.
Wilson was booed by the crowd after making the Rangers' Claws and Antlers gesture towards his dugout while standing on third base.
"That's cool to get some animosity on the road," Wilson. "You're not going be loved by everyone. But it was awesome. Anytime a pitcher gets a hit, you can see the enthusiasm go up with your team. Last year, when Colby Lewis got two hits in Milwaukee, I was doing somersaults I was so happy for him."
With the Astros trailing, 5-1, in the sixth, Michael Bourn tripled to start the inning and scored on Hunter Pence's single. Carlos Lee hit a long fly ball to right-center that was caught on the warning track by a diving Hamilton, forcing Bourn to scurry back to first.
Keppinger followed with a grounder to shortstop Andres Blanco, who fell to the ground while throwing to second baseman Ian Kinsler for the forceout. Kinsler snapped a relay throw to first base, where umpire Bob Davidson called Keppinger out to complete the double play despite the throw being late.
"I thought it was pretty easy to see, but he saw it the other way," Keppinger said. "That's the way the game goes. Those guys make mistakes out there, too."
Mills bounded out of the dugout and was ejected by crew chief Jerry Layne, who was working third base. It was Mills' fourth ejection of the year.
"We definitely thought he was safe," Pedrique said. "Maybe that could have changed the game a little bit, kept the inning alive. It went the other way and we didn't get the call right. It happens."
The Astros squandered earlier chances, too.
Catcher Carlos Corporan, who had a career-high three hits, hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the second inning. In the fifth, Corporan followed a leadoff double by Barmes with a single to put runners at the corners, but Lyles struck out trying to bunt and Jason Bourgeois bounced into a 5-4-3 double play.
Bourgeois strained his right quad on the play and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
"We had 10, 11 hits and swung the bats a lot better," Pedrique said. "We were one or two hits away from having big innings."
Astros reliever Aneury Rodriguez gave up solo homers to Mitch Moreland in the eighth and Kinsler in the ninth.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.