Extra Bases: Nathan admires setup work

HOUSTON -- Joe Nathan admired the work of Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers again in Friday's 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros.

The bridge to the Rangers closer has never been more secure.

Ross and Scheppers gave the Rangers 2⅓ innings of shutout relief with the Rangers holding onto a 3-2 lead. They retired all seven batters they faced on a combined 29 pitches. Nathan, who expected as much, pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save.

"It doesn't surprise me," Nathan said of Ross and Scheppers' work as the Rangers' setup men. "Robbie's been able to do this for a year. Obviously, he's proven.

"Everyone knew what kind of stuff Tanner had," Nathan said. "He's got a breaking ball to go with the 98 mph fastball. It's not a surprise. It's great to have them get off to a great start."

Scheppers held off Ross for the Rangers ERA lead in the bullpen. Scheppers dropped to 0.50 for the season, second best for relievers in the American League. Ross is right behind him at 0.53 after retiring the four batters he faced Friday night.

"It's all about being able to trust your stuff and throw strikes," said Nathan, who should know the secrets of being a reliever, picking up his 300th career save earlier this season.

Other Rangers notes for Saturday morning:

1. Cruz's home run: The Astros' postgame notes from their media relations staff had the distance of Nelson Cruz's sixth-inning home run at 416 feet. ESPN's home run tracker had it at 431 feet.

2. Berkman loves Houston: Designated hitter Lance Berkman extended his hitting streak at Minute Maid Park to 16 games with a double in his final at-bat in the eighth inning. Berkman is batting .475 with six home runs and 23 RBIs during the fifth-longest streak in ballpark history.

3. Giving away a run: Manager Ron Washington said that the Rangers allowed Houston to steal a run in the bottom of the third. Jose Altuve was able to score from third base on a wild pitch that didn't bounce more than 10 feet away from catcher Geovany Soto, who thought it was strike three on Houston's Carlos Pena. "Soto was arguing, [Alexi] Ogando was spectating and nobody on the field was saying anything," Washington said. "I didn't even yell anything from the dugout so they got me, too."