HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers used the power of Nelson Cruz and Jeff Baker and another dominant effort from their bullpen to rally and hang on for a 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
Baker breaks tie: Jeff Baker belted an opposite-field home run to right field on the first pitch he saw from Astros left-handed reliever Wesley Wright to give the Rangers their first lead at 3-2. Wright was part of Thursday's pitching change debacle against the Los Angeles Angels in which Bo Porter was able to take him out of the game without his having thrown a pitch. That didn't happen on Friday night.
Boom stick: Nelson Cruz woke up a partisan Rangers crowd at Minute Maid Park with a moon shot of a home run to left field that hit off the second row of windowpanes to tie the game at 2-2. It was Cruz's team-leading eighth home run of the season. No distance was reported.
Insurance home run: Houston's own David Murphy extended his hitting streak to five games with a ninth-inning home run to right-center field to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. Murphy's third homer came against left-handed reliever Travis Blackley. It's his first long ball in 39 at-bats against a southpaw this season.
Bullpen magic: The Rangers' bullpen was at it again. First it was Robbie Ross lowering his ERA to 0.56 and retiring all four batters he faced. Then Tanner Scheppers worked a perfect eighth inning, getting two strikeouts, both of them looking, to drop his ERA to 0.50. And closer Joe Nathan finished off the game for his 10th save.
Wasted chance in third: The Rangers didn't take advantage of shaky Astros starter Dallas Keuchel in the top of the third. Elvis Andrus drew a bases-loaded walk on four pitches to tie the game at 1-1. The rally stopped there. Lance Berkman struck out as Keuchel did a nice job of working the veteran inside. Adrian Beltre's fly ball to center field ended the inning, though Houston's Robbie Grossman almost played a sure out into a two-run bloop single.
Web gem: Second baseman Ian Kinsler stole a hit from Houston's Grossman with a running snare of a line drive up the middle that ended with a dive for good measure.
Ogando not sharp: Alexi Ogando struggled with his command in the early innings, but did pick up his second straight victory, allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings. Ogando allowed a home run to Astros left fielder Trevor Crowe, his first of the season, to put the Rangers behind 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third, Ogando had two walks and two wild pitches in the inning. But he managed to give up only one run when Jose Altuve scooted home on a wild pitch for a 2-1 Astros lead.
Up next: Rangers ace Yu Darvish (5-1, 2.56 ERA) will face Houston left-hander Erik Bedard (0-2, 7.36) at 6:10 p.m. Saturday night on FSSW and ESPN-FM 103.3 and 1540-AM. Sunday's matchup pits Rangers right-hander Nick Tepesch (2-3, 4.50) against Astros right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-0, 4.50) at 1:10 p.m.