Road scholar: Lewis goes the distance
Texas wins seventh straight game, all on current trip
HOUSTON -- The chant started sometime late in the game. Colby Lewis heard it. So did manager Ron Washington and others.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
The Rangers were on their way to a 5-1 victory over the Astros on Saturday night. It came from a vocal minority of a sellout crowd of 41,060. It wasn't loud, but it was quite distinctive."Rangers! ... Rangers!" "It was kind of like Cubs fans when we're at home," Lewis said. "Or Yankees fans. Today, we had a whole lot of Rangers fans. It was nice." The Rangers have become a big hit on the road, and those who made the drive from North Texas on Saturday saw Lewis at his best. He delivered a two-hit complete-game performance, and the Rangers have now won seven straight to remain 2 1/2 games ahead of the Angels in the American League West. "We've just had a good team effort," said third baseman Michael Young, who homered in the ninth. "Tonight, Colby had an unbelievable tempo and kept the defense in the game by throwing strikes. It was just a great game." Justin Smoak drove in three runs with a home run and a single as the Rangers set a record for the longest winning streak ever on a single road trip. It also tied for the second-longest road winning streak in Rangers history. They had a nine-game win streak in 1977. "Tonight was definitely Colby Lewis and Justin Smoak's night," Washington said. "From the first pitch, Colby took command of the game and finished things off. It was a solid game all around." Lewis needed just 101 pitches to throw his first Major League complete game and the fourth by a Rangers pitcher this season. It's the first two-hit complete-game performance by a Rangers pitcher since Doug Davis shut out the Athletics on April 11, 2002. Lewis struck out nine and did not walk a batter. He retired the first 13 hitters he faced and took a one-hit shutout into the seventh. The only run came after a leadoff double by Michael Bourn in the seventh. He ended up scoring on a groundout and a wild pitch. "He stuck it to us and we weren't able to get anything going on him," Astros outfielder Hunter Pence said. "With Bourn getting that leadoff double, you had the guys you want coming up," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "[Lewis] started making other pitches. He's been throwing the ball well. You get a guy like that who's able to locate in the strike zone and to change velocities, it's going to be tough. We didn't square many balls up." No they did not. Smoak had three hits, one more than the entire Astros lineup had off Lewis. David Murphy drew three walks, three more than the Astros lineup. But most telling is that Murphy's first walk came in a 12-pitch at-bat against Astros starter Brian Moehler. Lewis averaged fewer than 12 pitches per inning all night. That sums it up. "Colby was able to place his fastball where he wanted to," Washington said. "When it was time for him to throw his breaking ball, he was able to get it over early in the count. He was as efficient as I've seen him since he has been with us." Murphy's walk was big. He fell behind 1-2 in the count and then fouled off six two-strike pitches while working a walk. "Very impressive," Washington said. "Moehler wasn't giving in, he was living on the edge and Murph kept protecting. He fouled off some good pitches and finally got the walk." Moehler, perhaps drained from the battle, fell behind 2-1 to Smoak. He then threw a cut fastball that Smoak crushed into the second deck well beyond the right-field wall for a two-run home run. "I knew it was gone but wasn't going to sit there and watch it," Smoak said. Smoak admitted that Murphy's walk helped. "Murphy had a heck of an at-bat," Smoak said. "I get in there, he's probably tired, he left a cutter out over the plate and I got good wood on it." Smoak had an RBI single in the eighth and is 5-for-10 in two games at Minute Maid Park. He was 2-for-22 when he came in here. "It's just one of those things. ... I'm trying to stay consistent," Smoak said. "The last couple of nights have been good. I just want to keep working and put the time in." He gets one more game at Minute Maid. The Rangers, who have a 2-0 lead over the Astros in the Lone Star Series, close out their nine-game road trip on Sunday afternoon. Win or lose, it will still be one of the most successful trips in franchise history. They would still like to hear the chant one more time.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.