Saturday, August 09, 2014
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Grossman blasts Astros past Rangers

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[August 09, 2014]  HOUSTON -- With Dexter Fowler and George Springer set to return from the disabled list shortly, the coming days will amount to an open tryout for Houston Astros outfielders hoping to maintain their playing time when their roles are certain to change.

Right fielder Robbie Grossman made his statement by smacking a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning to spark the Astros' methodical 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Texas Rangers on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

Grossman drilled the first pitch of his at-bat against Rangers left-hander Neal Cotts (2-6) into the left-field seats, scoring first baseman Jon Singleton, who led off the inning with a single, for a 3-2 Astros lead.

Houston (48-68) stranded five runners in the middle innings while only managing to slice a 2-0 deficit in half. Grossman ended the slump with his fifth homer of the season and capped a 3-for-3 effort that included a walk.

"I'm just going out there and (getting) good at-bats," Grossman said. "Go out there and play hard. That's all you can do.

"I'm just controlling what I can control. Whatever happens, happens."

Grossman finished a triple short of the cycle. Astros second baseman Gregorio Petit, a midgame replacement for injured Jose Altuve, added a two-out RBI double that provided a critical insurance run.

Before the Astros' three-run rally, Texas (45-70) appeared in prime shape for a win after right-handers Shawn Tolleson and Roman Mendez combined for four strikeouts in two scoreless innings of relief.

Astros right-hander Jose Veras (2-0) worked a perfect eighth preceding closer Chad Qualls, who posted his 13th save despite allowing three hits, including an RBI single to pinch-hitter Mike Carp. Qualls induced a game-inning double play from left fielder Daniel Robertson to preserve the Astros' sixth consecutive win over Texas.

"It was a tough ballgame," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We put up two runs in the first inning and just couldn't get anything else. They fought for their at-bats and they beat us. They beat our best pitcher that we had in that situation, so you've got to give them credit."

Astros right-hander Brett Oberholtzer worked at least six innings for a 10th consecutive start, but his first inning proved rocky and laborious.

Two of the first three batters Oberholtzer faced reached base safely, including Rangers designated hitter J.P. Arencibia, whose two-run homer to left field scored right fielder Shin Soo-Choo and spotted Texas a 2-0 lead. First baseman Adam Rosales added a single to right field two batters later before Oberholtzer escaped the inning and settled down.

Oberholtzer worked around two singles in the fourth inning but retired the Rangers in order in the second, third and fifth. The Rangers' 2-0 lead held until the fifth when the Astros broke through.

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"I told myself after the first inning, 'Just pretend like the second inning's the start of the first and just go out there and compete and give the team the opportunity to get some runs on the board," Oberholtzer said. "It worked out great tonight."

Rangers right-hander Miles Mikolas coaxed a deep flyout to center field from Altuve to leave the bases loaded in the second inning before striking out shortstop Marwin Gonzalez to cap the fourth. He appeared set to carry his shutout into the sixth after retiring the first two batters of the fifth, but that was before Astros designated hitter Chris Carter continued his torrid streak at the plate.

Carter golfed a 3-2 Mikolas pitch onto the train tracks high above left field for his 25th home run this season, cutting the deficit in half. Carter has clubbed 12 home runs since July 1, the most in the major leagues.

"I really didn't want to walk him, and I tried to throw that pitch for a strike a little too much," Mikolas said. "He stayed on it pretty well."

NOTES: The Rangers activated C Geovany Soto from the 15-day disabled list and designated RHP Jerome Williams for assignment. Soto had been sidelined since July 21 after suffering a right groin strain while running the bases at Yankee Stadium. Williams was 1-1 with a 9.90 ERA in two starts with the Rangers. ... Rangers RF Alex Rios was given the day off to rest a sore right ankle initially sprained June 19 at Toronto. ... Astros OF Dexter Fowler began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday night. Fowler has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 27 with a strained right intercostal. ... Astros OF George Springer underwent treatment in Houston and will participate in a full workout on Saturday before a decision is made regarding his reinstatement from the 15-day disabled list. Springer landed on the DL July 20 with a sore left quad and played three games with Class A Quad Cities this week as part of his rehab assignment.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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