Rangers return to .500 thanks to big fifth

Rangers return to .500 thanks to big fifth

ARLINGTON -- Thanks to a three-run fifth inning, the Rangers clinched a series victory against the Astros with a 4-3 win on Tuesday.

Houston had a two-run lead until the fourth inning, when Prince Fielder's solo home run put the Rangers on the board against Astros starter Dan Straily. After the fifth, Rangers right-hander Yovani Gallardo allowed a home run to outfielder Carlos Gomez -- his first as an Astro -- to put Houston within one run, but closer Shawn Tolleson and the Texas bullpen shut the door to preserve the win despite allowing two runners to reach scoring position in the ninth.

"It's a comfort to know that you have a pitcher on the mound who doesn't really get rattled," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "[Tolleson] has shown all year long that he's in control of the moment, that he's got pitches, that he's got command."

The Rangers have won six out of seven and reached the .500 mark for the first time since July 4. Despite throwing 98 pitches in five innings, Gallardo earned his first win since June 27.

"Five hundred is not where we want to be," Banister said. "It's just a number we've got to get to [in order] to go where we want to go."

The Astros have lost two in a row to start their nine-game road trip -- and 12 of their last 14 away from home -- but remain in first place in the American League West.

"We had opportunities, and we just didn't do enough with them, and they did in their big inning, where they scored three runs," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They get a big two-out hit. That's usually the case in a tight game with one extra big hit, big pitch, and they got both ends of that."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No bunt, no problem: After Chris Gimenez hit a leadoff single in the fifth, Delino DeShields stepped to the plate looking to bunt. Gimenez stole second when DeShields pulled back on a high, inside ball. DeShields then took a called strike and fouled off a bunt attempt before having to swing away with two strikes. He hit a triple to right field that scored Gimenez to tie the score. DeShields then scored on a Rougned Odor base hit, and the Rangers scored another run on a Josh Hamilton single to take a two-run lead.

DeShields' RBI triple

Gomez gets No. 100: Gomez, acquired in a trade last week with the Brewers, clubbed his first home run with the Astros -- and the 100th of his career -- with a leadoff shot in the sixth inning off former Brewers teammate Gallardo. Gomez is just one of 12 active players with at least 100 homers and 200 stolen bases.

"Looks like he's very comfortable and settled in nicely here," Hinch said. "He's a big impact player, and watching him play on our side is certainly better than playing against him. He can do a lot of things on the field, and he's showcasing it in the first week here." More >

Gomez's RBI double

In and out of trouble: Rangers left-hander Sam Freeman took over for Gallardo with a runner on first in the sixth inning. Preston Tucker, the first batter Freeman faced, singled. Freeman then struck out Evan Gattis to end a seven-pitch at-bat, but walked Colby Rasmus to load the bases with one out. Freeman got Luis Valbuena to fly out and Marwin Gonzalez to ground out, escaping the jam and preserving the Rangers' one-run lead.

"What a gutsy performance by Sam," Banister said. "Bases loaded, that situation, again, making quality pitches. If you make quality pitches at this level, you have an opportunity to get out of jams. ... As these guys gain traction, they gain understanding and they gain confidence, they can slow the moment down, they understand where they're at, and they make pitches."

Clutch hits elude Astros: The Astros went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, leaving the bases stranded in the sixth inning and then not being able to come through after putting runners at first and third with no outs in the ninth. Tolleson struck out Jason Castro and Jose Altuve to end the game and strand runners at second and third.

"We hit some balls hard, and it's pretty bad luck today," Gomez said. More >

Tolleson escapes the jam in 9th

TUCKER INJURED
Tucker is listed as day to day after leaving the game in the eighth inning after his upper right arm stiffened and became swollen. He had been hit on the right triceps by a pitch in the second inning.

"It just went numb, and it felt like my arm was asleep and I couldn't feel it," Tucker said. "After the double play [later in the second], I went back there and tried to stretch it out, and it wouldn't get any better. They told me it was going to tighten up during the game, and it eventually got to the point I couldn't bend it at all and felt like I wasn't doing anyone any good being out there."

WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: Lefty Scott Kazmir, who earlier this week was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for July, makes his third start for Houston since coming over in a trade with Oakland in Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. CT series finale against the Rangers at Globe Life Park. Kazmir hasn't allowed a run in two starts (14 2/3 innings) with the Astros.

Rangers: Right-hander Nick Martinez will start the series finale against the Astros at 7:05 p.m. CT. Martinez (6-6, 4.01 ERA) broke a streak of six winless starts in his most recent outing, against the Giants.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Cody Stavenhagen is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.