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Rapid Reaction: Astros 4, Rangers 2

HOUSTON -- It was one of those situations when Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington needed to see a few things from his pitchers.

He wanted consistency from 25-year-old starter Nick Tepesch and to check out how 24-year-old reliever Roman Mendez dealt with some adversity.

Each failed Thursday night, as the Rangers' two-game winning streak ended in a 4-2 defeat to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Tepesch was pulled with one out and two on in the fifth inning after throwing 89 pitches, and Mendez was asked to clean up the mess. Mendez couldn’t and sealed his own fate, as well as that of the Rangers, by allowing a grand slam to Jason Castro for Castro's 13th home run of the season.

You could debate Washington's move to take out Tepesch, who didn't seem happy to come out, and bring in Mendez.

At times you need to find something out about your young players, and this is what Washington is doing.

How it happened? The Rangers gave Tepesch a 2-0 lead when Leonys Martin scored on a Mike Carp double play in the first and Robinson Chirinos came in on Carp’s sacrifice fly out in the third.

Tepesch couldn’t maintain the lead and the young pitcher got into trouble in the fifth. After a one-out hit to Jose Altuve, he walked Chris Carter and Washington had seen enough.

Mendez didn’t have his best stuff and Dexter Fowler reached on a slow roller to short. Adrian Beltre, who moved over from third to field the ball could have let shortstop Elvis Andrus make a play on it. It didn’t matter, because Castro sent a shot to right that gave the Astros a 4-2 lead. It was just the second homer allowed by Mendez this season.

Adduci leaves with injury: Right fielder Jim Adduci left the game in the fourth inning with an apparent head/neck injury. Adduci made a wonderful, running catch in foul territory in right. Adduci flipped over second baseman Rougned Odor as he made the catch, and his head hit the track then slammed into the padded wall. Adduci, who went 0-for-2, left on his own power. Team officials said he will be further evaluated.

Mendez has a rough night: Mendez entered the game having allowed no runs in his last seven innings, a span of eight games that lowered his ERA to 1.23. He started his career with eight scoreless appearances, tying a club record set by Alexi Ogando. Left-handed hitters were just 5-for-35 against Mendez until Castro homered off him in the fifth. Mendez did retire the next two lefties, Marc Krauss and Jon Singleton. It was an uneven performance for Mendez, who has been very good this season. He allowed two runs on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings.

What’s up with the crowd? It was a sparse crowd at the start of Thursday’s game. With the Houston Texans playing their final preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers and Texas A&M playing its SEC opener at South Carolina, there were plenty of seats available at Minute Maid Park. The lower bowl wasn’t even half full and the final tally came in at 16,399. It wasn’t the smallest crowd of the season at Minute Maid Park, but it sure looked that way for a while.

What’s next? RHP Scott Baker (2-3, 5.45) vs. LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-9, 4.01) face each other Friday night at 7:10 CT. Baker has won games in his last two appearances, one relief and one starting, after the Rangers had gone 0-20 in games he pitched.