Bullpen pitches out of trouble, Rangers beat Astros 4-3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Shawn Tolleson doesn't mind pitching almost every day, and the Texas Rangers don't mind having him on the mound that often.
Pitching on Tuesday night for the sixth time in seven games, Tolleson got himself into and out of a ninth-inning jam to help Texas hold off the Houston Astros 4-3.
Tolleson earned his 20th save, all since May 20, despite giving up a walk and Luis Valbuena's second single before recording an out. Jason Castro and Jose Altuve struck out for the final two outs.
''I pride myself in getting up here and being ready to go every day,'' the right-hander said after his fourth save in the seven games, six of them Texas victories.
''I love being out there. Saves are fun. Wins are even more fun.''
Manager Jeff Banister said, ''It's a comfort to know that you have a pitcher on the mound that doesn't really get rattled. He continues to grow in the role of closer.
''I felt comfortable even in that first-and-third situation. The biggest at-bat was the Castro at-bat. Made some really nice pitches, quality pitches,'' Tolleson said.
Castro came into the game with three home runs and 10 RBIs in his previous four games. He went 0 for 4 on Tuesday.
After that, Tolleson threw a high fastball over All-Star second baseman Altuve's bat for the game's final strike.
It wasn't just Tolleson.
Spencer Patton and Jake Diekman each pitched a perfect inning to set up the closer.
And Sam Freeman relieved Yovani Gallardo in the sixth inning with a 4-3 lead and a runner on first base. A single and a walk loaded the bases with one out before Freeman retired Valbuena on a fly ball and Marwin Gonzalez on a groundout.
''What a gutsy performance by Sam,'' Banister said. ''I think as these guys gain traction, they gain understanding and the gain confidence.''
Texas had erased a 2-1 deficit with three runs in the fifth against Dan Straily (0-1).
Delino DeShields' triple and singles by Rougned Odor and Josh Harrison drove in the runs.
Straily was recalled from Triple-A Fresno to replace scheduled starter Mike Fiers, who was not available because he pitched five relief innings on Monday. Straily pitched three scoreless innings until Prince Fielder led off the fourth with a home run.
Houston's Carlos Gomez drove in two runs with a double and a homer.
In the second, Colby Rasmus walked with two outs, stole second and scored on Valbuena's single.
The Astros added a run in the third. Altuve singled and scored on Gomez's double.
HOME, SWEET HOME
The Rangers returned to .500 (53-53) and moved within six games of first-place Houston. More importantly, Texas has won six of seven at home after beginning the year 16-28 in Arlington.
NO, YOU DO IT
Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre fielded Carlos Gomez's third-inning foul ball. Instead of throwing the ball into the stands, he twice tossed it at Astros third base coach Gary Pettis, a former Rangers coach. He let it bounce off his chest. Finally, Pettis smiled, picked up the ball and tossed it to a fan.
Astros: Gomez stayed on the infield dirt after diving into second base on a third-inning pickoff attempt. Manager A.J. Hinch and a trainer went on the field, but Gomez stayed in the game and homered on his next at-bat.
Rangers: LHP Derek Holland (strained shoulder) made his second injury-rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock. After pitching two scoreless innings, he allowed all four batters in the third to reach base. Holland gave up two runs, one earned and threw 35 strikes in 55 pitches.
Astros: In Wednesday's final game of the three-game series, LHP Scott Kazmir will try to continue last month's success. He allowed only one earned run in 34 innings for an 0.26 ERA, the third-lowest July mark in history.
Rangers: RHP Nick Martinez is scheduled to start on his 25th birthday. He is 2-1, 1.80 in five career starts vs. Houston, all last season.