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Rangers take series from Astros to win Silver Boot

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Chan Ho Park is finally paying dividends
for the Texas Rangers.

Park (7-6) allowed just one run over 6 2/3 innings and won his
third straight start -- all since returning from his second stay on
the disabled list this season -- as the Rangers beat the Houston
Astros 7-2 on Monday.

While giving the Rangers a win after being swept in three games
by Tampa Bay, Park gave himself a winning record for the first time
since signing his $65 million, five-year contract last December to
be Texas' No. 1 starter.

''Chan Ho really picked us up, and stepped it up when we needed
a big outing,'' Rangers manager Jerry Narron said.

Kevin Mench drove in three runs for the Rangers while Michael
Young had a pair of RBI singles and Alex Rodriguez got his major
league-leading 120th RBI with a sixth-inning double.

Houston missed another chance to make up ground on first-place
St. Louis in the NL Central, remaining four games behind the
Cardinals, who lost 5-3 to Cincinnati.

The game, the last interleague game until the World Series, was
the makeup of a June 30 rainout.

Since coming off the disabled list because of a blister on the
middle finger of his pitching hand to start Aug. 23 against the New
York Yankees, Park has allowed just five earned runs with 21
strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings.

The right-hander, who never spent a day on the DL the last six
seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, also missed six weeks with a
pulled right hamstring after starting the season opener.

''I'd never been injured that bad and couldn't pitch that long.
That hurt me because I couldn't understand,'' Park said. ''Now I
feel better, physically better and mentally better. And I'm more

Park struck out seven and held the Astros scoreless until Alan
Zinter's one-out homer in the seventh. Park had gotten out of a
bases-loaded jam in the sixth with a strikeout and a double-play

Todd Greene homered to lead off the Texas seventh, giving the
Rangers a homer in 20 straight games, one short of a team record.

Mench's RBI single in the third off Jeriome Robertson (0-1), who
made his major league debut, produced the first run and put the
Rangers ahead to stay. An inning later, the Rangers' rookie left
fielder added a two-run double.

Houston purchased Robertson's contract from Triple-A New Orleans
to start in place of Roy Oswalt, who was serving the last game of
his five-game suspension for throwing a pitch that hit the Chicago
Cubs' Alex Gonzalez on Aug. 12. Oswalt (17-6) will start Tuesday at
San Diego.

Robertson gave up two runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Ruben Rivera's bunt single started the third, and Donnie Sadler
followed with a single to right before Mench and Young had
consecutive RBI singles for a 2-0 lead. Mench's double in the
fourth came with two outs after Carl Everett and Rivera both

The Rangers could have scored more. But they left the bases
loaded twice -- with a total of 11 runners left on during the game --
and Astros second baseman Mark Loretta reached back to make a
barehanded grab of shortstop Jose Vizcaino's wide throw for a
forceout to end the third with two runners on.

Loretta, in his second game for Houston after being traded
Saturday from Milwaukee, had a two-out single in the seventh that
chased Park. But he was thrown out at the plate on Lance Berkman's
double into the left field corner when Mench and Rodriguez made a
perfect relay to Greene.

''We had some chances in the sixth and seventh,'' Astros manager
Jimy Williams said. ''We just needed a couple of hits and a few

Young walked and scored on Rodriguez's double in the sixth, then
added his second RBI single an inning later.

Zinter, who started at first with Jeff Bagwell as the designated
hitter, hit his 414-foot homer to center. Bagwell was hit by a
pitch by Jay Powell in the eighth and scored on a wild pitch by the
former Astros pitcher.

Game notes
Houston claimed the Silver Boot trophy that goes to the
winner of the season series, winning four of the six games. ... The
Rangers record for most consecutive games with a homer is 21, set
June 24-July 18. ... Bagwell's sixth-inning single was his 1,938th
career hit. That broke him out of a second-place tie with Jose Cruz
on the Astros career list. Craig Biggio is No. 1 with 2,279. ...
Greene played for the first time since being recalled from Triple-A
Oklahoma last Tuesday. He started as Ivan Rodriguez got the day
off. ... The Rangers gave away 10,426 tickets for the game, plus
had a paid attendance of 24,468. There were still a lot of empty