Rangers Honor Pudge, Thump Houston

Pudge loves his plaque
(c) Associated Press
While Houston has spent much of their season honoring the Hall of Fame career of Jeff Bagwell (as well they should), Ranger fans celebrated the career of Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, who spent part of 2009 as an Astro as part of his 21-year career in the majors. Fans in Arlington have also cited Adrian Beltre for passing the 3,000-hit mark, only half of them coming against the Astros (or so it seems). Beltre cracked three more hits against the Astros Saturday night in an 8-3 pounding that led to Houston's fifth straight loss, a season-high.

Rangers catcher Brett Nicholas sent his own tribute to Pudge, blasting a three-run homer off Mike Fiers in the second for a 3-0 advantage.

Houston fought back in the fourth on an RBI single by Alex Bregman and a run-scoring double by J.D. Davis but Derek Fisher was thrown out at the plate attempting to tie the game. It was Davis' first big league run batted in.

Arlington continued their assault in the middle innings. Mike Napoli drilled his 23rd homer of the season off Fiers then the Rangers added two more in our always-frustrating fifth. Beltre took part in this with an RBI double.

Tyson Ross lasted into the sixth inning but ran into trouble. He loaded the bases then walked in a run on ball four to Davis. That's when Matt Bush came in to retire Juan Centeno and end the threat.

Beltre showed no mercy, slapping a two-run single to push the final count to 8-3. He now has 3013 hits in his 20-year career.

Besides the other areas where the Astros are slumping, look also at the offense. During this five-game losing streak, they have averaged three runs per game. Before the All-Star Break, they averaged over five per game. Worse pitching plus worse hitting equals losing streak.

The Astros will have one last chance to salvage something from this series. Dallas Keuchel (9-2), who has struggled since his return from Disabled List and has not pitched well at the Broilpark (2-4, 5.74 ERA lifetime), will pitch for Houston in the 2:05 Central finale at Global Warming Park. Andrew Cashner (7-8), the former Padre, gets the start for the Rangers.

- Bob Hulsey