HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers bullpen betrayed them.
Houston 5, Texas 4.
The bullpen blew its sixth save of the season; the Rangers had 10 blown saves all of last year.
The Rangers led 4-0 after five innings, in part, because Nick Tepesch’s strong start in his 2014 debut.
Tepesch allowed two hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out eight. He left in the sixth with one out and a runner on first.
Aaron Poreda, who had not allowed a run all season, relieved him and gave up a walk and three singles that allowed the Astros to pull within 4-2.
The Rangers have now dipped below .500, while losing their first series to Houston since June 24-26, 2008.
Tepesch started for Martin Perez, who was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. He will either try to rehab the injury or have surgery and miss the rest of the season.
Matt Harrison, another starter, left Tuesday’s game with back stiffness. He needs spinal fusion surgery to eliminate the discomfort. That would force him to miss the season. Or he can try to rehab the injury and pitch through the pain.
The Rangers gave Tepesch an early 1-0 lead on Alex Rios’ second-inning homer to left. Prince Fielder pushed the lead to 2-0 with an RBI single in the third and 4-0 with an RBI double to left in the fifth.
A few observations:
Slow trot: Rios' homer was his third dinger of the season and first since May 2, a span of 41 at-bats.
Streaking: Elvis Andrus singled to right-center, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. He has two 11-game hitting streaks this season.
Bringing them home: Fielder, who finished the first quarter of the season with three homers and 14 RBI, had his third two-hit game of the series. A single in the third drove in Andrus and a double to left in the fifth brought home Adrian Beltre.
Mowing them down: Tepesch retired consecutive batters from the third inning until one out into the sixth inning.
Intentional pass: Fielder received his league-leading 11th intentional walk this season in the seventh inning, after Beltre led off with a double to left. Rios popped out and pinch-hitter Michael Choice struck out.
Striking out the side : In the first inning, Tepesch struck out Jose Altuve and Springer on eight pitches. Then he allowed a single and a double, earning a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux. Afterward, he struck out Dominguez in an eight-pitch at-bat.
Up next The Rangers will play the first game of their three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays with Yu Darvish (3-1, 2.33 ERA) facing Drew Hutchison (1–3, 4.37 ERA) in Friday’s 7:05 p.m. CT start on ESPN's 103.3 FM and TXA 21.