Detwiler keeps Rangers in position to rally

Lefty duels with Astros' Keuchel before Texas pulls ahead late

Detwiler keeps Rangers in position to rally

HOUSTON -- Rangers starter Ross Detwiler did not get credit for the victory on Monday night. But his teammates, after seven innings of serious frustration, finally came through on offense with some clutch hits and kept Detwiler's terrific outing from going to waste.

The Rangers, trailing 1-0 going into the eighth, tied it on an RBI single by Jake Smolinski and then went ahead in the ninth on Robinson Chirinos' sacrifice fly for a 2-1 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Rookie reliever Keone Kela earned his second victory and Neftali Feliz set down the side in order in the ninth for his third save of the season. It was his first save since April 17.

"It was a nice win," Feliz said. "Everybody played hard and contributed to us winning the game. Our starting pitcher really did a nice job. He pitched a good game."

Feliz shuts the door

Detwiler walked a couple of batters in the first inning, allowing the Astros to take a one-run lead. But the lefty was able to keep it close for seven innings on a night when Astros starter Dallas Keuchel -- the American League Pitcher of the Month for April -- was thwarting one Rangers rally after another.

Detwiler, making his fifth start for the Rangers, was 0-3 with an 8.66 ERA coming into the game, but he allowed four hits while striking out seven. He did not walk a batter after the first inning.

"My focus was keeping the ball down," Detwiler said. "This was the most ground balls I have had all year. That was the key."

"All our pitching did a great job," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Detwiler settled in and moved the fastball around, but the changeup made the difference tonight. This is a ballclub that had won 10 in a row and were swinging the bats well. I can't say enough about Detwiler. Everybody had him out of the picture. Talk about grit. He showed up tonight."

The Rangers had leadoff doubles by Shin-Soo Choo in the first, Delino DeShields in the sixth and Prince Fielder in the seventh, and they couldn't get a run out it. They were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position when DeShields walked with one out in the eighth against Keuchel and then stole second.

Smolinski followed with a single to center to tie the game.

Smolinski's game-tying single

"We knew that if we stayed with it, we would eventually push a run across," Smolinski said. "We stayed with the process."

Smolinski was stranded at third, but the Rangers started another threat in the ninth when Adrian Beltre led off with a double against reliever Chad Qualls. Kyle Blanks moved him to third with a single, and Chirinos brought Beltre home with a sacrifice fly to center.

"It was an awesome win," Chirinos said. "Ross did a great job. We kept battling and battling and finally got a chance to do something and win the game."

Chirinos' sac fly

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.