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Astros slam Rangers 13-6 for Alamodome sweep

Houston Astros' Jonathan Meyer, left, is congratulated by teammates on his grand slam home run in the fifth inning of a spring exhibition baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Saturday, March 29, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate) Photo: Darren Abate

Houston Astros' Jonathan Meyer, left, is congratulated by teammates on his grand slam home run in the fifth inning of a spring exhibition baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Saturday, March 29, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Jesus Guzman and George Springer hit consecutive home runs in the first inning, Jonathan Meyer had a grand slam in the fifth and a Houston Astros split squad rolled to a 13-6 victory over the Texas Rangers in the Alamodome on Saturday.

''I was seeing the pitches good today and trying to put the ball in play. It worked,'' Guzman said.

Nolan Fontana added a three-run shot in the seventh to help the Astros sweep two weekend games in the Alamodome, designed primarily for football and special events such as the NCAA Final Four. With an odd configuration for baseball, the building hosted Rangers spring training games for the second straight year.

Leonys Martin hit a solo shot to right-center for Texas, which opens the regular season Monday afternoon at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Houston plays El Aguila de Veracruz in its exhibition finale Sunday before hosting the New York Yankees in the season opener Tuesday night.

STARTING TIME

Astros: Dallas Keuchel looked sharp in his final outing of the spring against a potent Rangers offense.

''I felt really good. That's a pretty good lineup over there,'' he said. ''I felt like I held my own. It was nice to compete against a prestigious lineup that the Rangers have. I'm pretty pleased with the outing.''

After Elvis Andrus reached and scored on back-to-back errors by Houston's infield in the first, Keuchel struck out Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre before retiring Alex Rios on a grounder.

''To be able to get Prince out and then Beltre out on strikeouts in consecutive at-bats was pretty big for me,'' Keuchel said. ''Beltre has had some success against me in the past, and going forward it is a confidence booster for me.''

Keuchel, named the team's fifth starter on Wednesday, gave up five runs on six hits in 4 1-3 innings. He struck out five, walked one and gave up two homers.

The left-hander said he is where he wants to be heading into the regular season after a 78-pitch outing.

''I felt like the ball is coming out a little bit better than it has,'' Keuchel said. ''I'm definitely happy with that and going to try and move forward.''

Rangers: Joe Saunders stayed in the game after taking a ball off his left knee on a hit by Marwin Gonzalez, the second batter he faced, and giving up the home runs to Guzman and Springer.

''My knee bothered me a little bit, but I told myself that you can't come out of this game,'' he said. ''You have to get your pitches in and get your work done. You can't come out after the first two batters.''

Saunders gave up seven runs on eight hits and two walks in 4 1-3 innings. He struck out seven.

ON THE MEND

Texas ace Yu Darvish looked good in his throwing session with Rangers coaches Saturday morning.

Darvish played catch from 100 feet and threw 30 pitches on flat ground in Arlington. The 2013 AL Cy Young Award runner-up is expected to be re-evaluated Sunday. Then he could go through the same sort of workout, or it could be expanded.

Darvish missed his scheduled spring training start March 21 because of a stiff neck. He said he slept on it wrong and assumed he'd be back in two or three days. But he hadn't been able to throw, and he was examined by back specialist Dr. Drew Dossett on Wednesday, who found no structural damage in the pitcher's neck and cleared him to begin throwing again.

BANDBOX

Saunders wasn't worried about his stats in the Alamodome.

''When you pitch in places like (this), you can't focus on results,'' he said. ''You have to focus on mechanics and strikes and making your pitches. Those were fly balls (in most ballparks).

''I felt good. Today's outing was more about where my arm was at. My arm felt good. Maybe too good. I felt I've bounced back. That is what happens. One start your arm feels dead, and take some time off with the trainer and bounce back. I'm ready to go.''

ROSTER MOVES

The Rangers assigned RHP Colby Lewis, LHP Ryan Feierabend, RHP Justin Germano, RHP Daniel McCutchen, C Chris Snyder, INF Kevin Kouzmanoff and INF Kensuke Tanaka to Triple-A Round Rock. RHP Nick Martinez was sent to Double-A Frisco.

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