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TEX@HOU: Kinsler hits his second HR of the game

HOUSTON -- Ian Kinsler had just one thing to say to home-plate umpire Bob Davidson as he crossed home plate in the third inning.

"Thank you," Kinsler said.

The show of gratitude was appropriate. Instead of being hit by a pitch, Kinsler delivered the second of two home runs in support of starter Colby Lewis, and the Rangers were able to hold on for a 3-2 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday night.

Kinsler, who had led off the game with a home run against Astros starter Brett Myers, led off the third inning and tried to drop down a bunt on an inside fastball. The pitch hit him in the leg, but Davidson ruled it a strike because he said Kinsler attempted to bunt.

Kinsler argued hard and replays suggested that he was right. But Kinsler took a different stance after hitting a 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall.

"I'll take it," Kinsler said. "He got the call right."

But the replays showed ...

"He got it right for sure," said Kinsler, who is 4-for-7 with three home runs in two nights against the Astros. He entered the series hitting .161 with two home runs on the road this season.

"I just needed a good game, it doesn't matter where," Kinsler said.

Kinsler's road woes are fading quickly. In his last eight games on the road, he is 10-for-36 (.361) with four home runs, 10 runs scored and seven RBIs.

"He's fine, we're not worried about him at all," infielder Michael Young said. "He's been in the league awhile. He knows you have to keep your head up and keep playing. You're going to have stretches where you are not on fire. You battle through it and when you're done, you're a better player for it."

The victory gave the Rangers possession of the Silver Boot for the fifth straight season. They have won four of five from the Astros this season with just one more game to play on Thursday night. The Rangers have also won eight straight at Minute Maid Park.

"It's just good to come in here and play good baseball the last couple of nights," Young said.

Kinsler's second home run gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead, and that appeared to be more than enough for Lewis. He retired the first 11 batters he faced and took a two-hit shutout into the seventh. At that point, he had thrown 60 pitches and 50 of them were strikes.

He looked in complete control of the game.

"It's kind of tough when you've got a guy like that going out there," Astros left fielder Carlos Lee said. "You're always finding yourself behind in the count, and instead of being aggressive, now you're protecting."

But it was Lee who changed everything when he smashed a one-out home run in the seventh inning. That's when it started to unravel for Lewis.

"They were hacking early, putting the ball in play and making it easy on me," Lewis said. "That's the way it is -- you feel like you're going good and everything feels great, then you make a couple of bad pitches, and then ..."

Matt Downs doubled into the left-fielder corner and, after Brett Wallace struck out, Downs scored on a bloop single by Clint Barmes. Carlos Corporan followed with a double into the right-field corner, but third-base coach Dave Clark held up Barmes at third rather than take a chance at scoring the tying run with two outs.

"He would have been dead," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If he had sent him, he would have gotten blown up at home plate. I wish he would have sent him. It would have ended the inning right there. Dave Clark is a good third-base coach. Whichever way he decided would have worked out for us."

At that point, Lewis had thrown just 74 pitches. But Washington had Darren Oliver ready in the bullpen and decided not to wait.

"In that stretch, they had started to center the baseball," Washington said. "We had come too far to let one of those guys square up a base hit. Then that's the ballgame and we're behind. I didn't think Colby deserved that."

Oliver retired Jason Michaels on a grounder to short to end the inning, then combined with Mark Lowe in a scoreless eighth before Neftali Feliz finished the job in the ninth. Oliver gave up a single to Michael Bourn leading off the eighth but then caught him stealing after picking him off first.

Feliz walked Lee in the ninth. But the game ended on a double play, as Feliz struck out Wallace and catcher Yorvit Torrealba threw out Lee at second on a botched hit-and-run.

"I was kind of surprised," Torrealba said. "With Carlos Lee at first and the guy on the mound throwing 90-plus [mph] ... there is a good chance that he is going to get a strikeout."

The Rangers don't mind getting a break. They got one in the third inning from the home-plate umpire, and that was the biggest of the night. Comments