Irwin doesn't get far in first Rangers start

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Phil Irwin’s first starting assignment as a Texas Ranger on Tuesday night at Globe Life Park couldn’t have gotten off to a more inauspicious start.

The first six Houston Astros he faced reached base. That Houston scored only two was pretty miraculous.

Irwin, in 95-degree heat, needed 33 pitches to finally retire the side. That had a lot to do with his exit after four innings.

“I wasted all my pitches there in the first," said Irwin, recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday afternoon. “I was overthrowing. After that, when I had time to sit down and think about it, I was fine. But a lot of energy was used up."

Irwin, the 12th starting pitcher used by the Rangers this season, was the losing pitcher in Houston’s 8-3 victory. In four innings, he allowed six hits and three runs. The night was far from a total loss.

“I think he was a little nervous," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He did keep us in the game. He settled down in his last two innings. But when he got the ball out over the plate, they hit it."

Bullpen shows wear: With starters not going deep in games, the Rangers' bullpen is struggling. Texas relievers’ earned run average, already 4.43 going into Tuesday’s game, climbed higher after allowing five more earned runs.

“It’s always a challenge," Washington said. “We try not to overwork guys. Once we get the starting pitchers going deeper, the bullpen will be more effective."

No Rangers starter has lasted longer than six innings in the past 10 games since Yu Darvish threw eight scoreless frames against Minnesota on June 28.

Up next: Darvish is scheduled to face Houston at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, when the Rangers hope to break a three-game losing streak.