Joe Nathan takes charge

HOUSTON -- Joe Nathan couldn't remember the last time he's pitched in five consecutive games, but the Texas Rangers closer said he would do so if asked.

Friday night, Nathan earned his ninth save of the season in the Rangers' 4-1 victory over the Astros. Nathan was pitching for the fourth consecutive game. It's the first time Nathan has done so since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010.

Nathan had a 1-2-3 ninth inning, throwing 21 pitches.

"I felt strong, I felt sharp," he said. "I made sure I threw strikes. I didn't want to go 3-2 with the first two guys, but I know in situations you can't walk guys. I tried to keep pumping strikes and get guys to put them in play."

There was concern about Nathan's availability after pitching three consecutive days, and manager Ron Washington wasn't sure before the game if his closer could or wanted to do it.

Washington said he would ask Nathan about his ability to pitch for a fourth consecutive day and the closer responded well.

The Rangers didn't have setup man Mike Adams available, so Washington juggled the bullpen responsibilities by moving Koji Uehara to Adams' spot.

Uehara threw a scoreless eighth inning, extending his scoreless streak to 10 1/3 innings. His ERA is now 1.26.

That left the ninth for Nathan, who threw the fastball with consistency on both sides of the plate.

It was the first time Nathan has pitched four consecutive days since Sept. 13-16, 2009, when he pitched for Minnesota.

"I know it's been a while, but I had Tommy John," Nathan said. "I knew we weren't going to do it in 2010 because I didn't throw an inning (due to the surgery). It was kind of tough to do it in a comeback year (2011). I think everybody with the Twin Cities were cautious in 2011. I think I threw only one back-to-back maybe once that year. It's a situation where I'm feeling better, I'm feeling stronger and I think everybody here is getting more comfortable putting me out there on consecutive days."