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TEX@HOU: Hamilton makes two great catches

HOUSTON -- Both Rangers first baseman Michael Young and third baseman Adrian Beltre admitted that Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez pitched well on Thursday night.

But Josh Hamilton had a more succinct summation of the Rangers' offense after their eight-game winning streak at Minute Maid Park came to an end with a 7-0 loss to the Astros.

"Dead," Hamilton said.

There was sufficient evidence of that. The Rangers managed just four singles and three walks against Rodriguez and three relievers. The Rangers were hitless in their only three at-bats with runners in scoring position, they hit into three double plays and they managed just one infield hit and a walk over the final six innings.

"He threw the ball well, but it's our job to score no matter who is pitching," Young said. "He made big pitches and got the double play, but as an offense we have to take responsibility for ourselves and what we need to do to score runs."

This is the third time the Rangers have been shut out this season, and all have come on the road. Rodriguez pitched seven scoreless innings in beating Rangers starter Matt Harrison.

"He was hitting his spots," Beltre said. "I can't say he was terrific, but he pitched well. You've got to give him credit, but we should have done more."

The Rangers still won two out of three from the Astros in Houston and four of six overall to retain the Silver Boot trophy for the fifth straight year. But their lead over the Angels is down to one game in the American League West as they get ready for a 10-game homestand that begins Friday night against the Marlins.

"It will be good to get home and get this straightened out," Hamilton said. "We still took two here, but ..."

Rodriguez beat Harrison for one reason. Rodriguez was able to get out of the one big jam he faced and Harrison could not. The Astros got a pair of two-out hits that broke the game open, and the Rangers missed on their lone opportunity.

Texas had a chance to do some serious damage in the third inning after a walk to Ian Kinsler, a single by Elvis Andrus and a walk to Hamilton. That brought up Beltre, who flied out to deep right-center to end the inning.

"I know in the third inning he had two quick outs -- I think it was seven pitches -- and wound up throwing close to 30 pitches that inning when he loaded the bases," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He was able to get locked back in. The time's he's struggled, it's been hard for him to get locked back in, but it was sure nice to see him get locked back in and get out of that inning. That was big."

Harrison kept the Astros scoreless through three before he gave up a home run to Carlos Lee leading off the fourth. But it was the fifth that cost Harrison, who is now 6-7 with a 3.30 ERA.

The rally started with one out when Harrison hit Michael Bourn with a pitch. Angel Sanchez then tried to bunt his way on, but was thrown out by Kinsler. Bourn moved to second on the play, and that brought up Hunter Pence.

He hit a chopper toward Beltre, who made an awkward grab of a tricky hop in the hole and threw off balance to first. The throw skipped past Young and allowed Bourn to score.

"If we finish that play off, it's a different inning," manager Ron Washington said.

"The ball gave me a tough hop and kind of got me off my feet," Beltre said. "I tried to make a play and threw the ball there too short."

Pence ended up at second, and Lee was intentionally walked. But Jason Michaels doubled down the right-field line for one run, and Chris Johnson singled to center on a 1-2 pitch to drive in two more, giving the Astros a 5-0 lead.

"One rough inning," Harrison said. "I had a couple of chances to get out of the inning. Johnson's hit was the big one. I got ahead 1-2, tried to go down and away and got it up and away. That was big ... 3-0 still gives us a chance, but I let the game get out of hand. Four runs took us out of the game, because Wandy pitched a great game."

Michaels added a two-run home run in the seventh after reliever Dave Bush replaced Harrison. Bush had a tough inning, but he was helped by two spectacular catches by Hamilton. One was a leaping catch in front of the [left-field] wall and one was a diving catch on a line drive to his right.

They just didn't mean that much, because they came on a night when the Rangers' offense was dead.

"Whether it's 7-0, 1-1, 0-0, 20-0, it doesn't matter," Hamilton said. "I'm still going to go after it." Comments