Lyles undone by big first as Astros drop finale

Lyles undone by big first as Astros drop finale

Lyles undone by big first as Astros drop finale
HOUSTON -- By the time Astros starting pitcher Jordan Lyles gained a feel for his mechanics and was able spot his pitches Sunday afternoon, the Rangers had already done enough damage to make for a long day at Minute Maid Park.

Lyles, making his third start of the season, was roughed up in the first inning, allowing five runs and five hits as the Rangers pounced on the Astros and strolled to a 6-1 win Sunday afternoon to close out the first leg of the Lone Star Series.

"The game was on my shoulders and I didn't do a good job," said Lyles, who was told after the game he will be optioned back to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

The Rangers sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning against Lyles, who threw 38 of his 117 pitches in the first. He settled down and held the Rangers to one run, one walk and four hits over the next four innings, but the damage was done. The Astros were held scoreless against Rangers starter Colby Lewis until the ninth inning.

"He said he really wasn't having a good bullpen [session] to start off with," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He said that's kind of normal, but he usually gets out there and doesn't have a problem with finding it and usually he's able to do it right away. It didn't happen for him until later, after he got going. You don't want him to have so many pitches."

Lyles said not throwing the ball well in the bullpen usually isn't an indication of how his day is going to go once the game starts, but it proved to be an omen Sunday.

"The first inning, I didn't have a clue where it was going for the most part," he said.

Lewis (4-3) carried a shutout into the ninth inning and was pulled after giving up a leadoff homer to Jed Lowrie. Lewis also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a two-run single that capped the Rangers' five-run outburst in the first inning.

"He's a guy that's not going to overpower you with anything, but he executed his pitches, and when he does that he can make quick work of you," Lowrie said. "If you can string a few hits together, there's an opportunity to have a big inning, but it just didn't happen today."

Lyles held the Rangers in check over his final four innings, with the exception of a homer to David Murphy in the fifth.

"He was starting to bury some breaking balls," Mills said. "He was starting to spot his fastball and bury some of those breaking balls like he wanted to. He could throw it for strikes and bury it when he wanted to and mix in his other pitches as well. He became a pitcher instead of a guy that was trying to get a feel for his pitches early on the game."

The Astros were out-hit, 14-5, by the Rangers, who took two of three games over the weekend. When the teams meet next month in Arlington, it will be their final Interleague meeting before they become American League West foes next year.

"It's tough for anybody to get down early, but it happened [Saturday] and we came back and we still have nine innings to make some runs," Astros outfielder Brian Bogusevic said. "We just didn't chip away and get to a point we could really make a run at it."

Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus began the first with back-to-back singles, and Josh Hamilton scored Kinsler on a sacrifice fly to center. Nelson Cruz had a two-run single with the bases loaded after the Astros walked Murphy, and Lewis' two-run single to right made it 5-0.

"I wanted to take one pitch and get my timing down," said Lewis, who has all four of the RBIs by Rangers pitchers since 2006. "They said he was a fastball, breaking ball, cutter guy. He threw me a cutter away. I kind of jammed myself and the ball fell in. I was excited about it."

Lyles said his biggest mistake was the 0-2 pitch to Cruz with the bases loaded and two outs.

"That first inning didn't go too well," he said. "My mistakes were over the plate. Really that first inning just came down to the Nelson Cruz at-bat. I had him 0-2 and tried to throw a curveball in the dirt and he fouled it off. And then I tried to go slider away and left it over the plate and two runs came in."

And with Lewis locked in, the Astros weren't able to muster a second consecutive comeback.

"Yesterday, we swung the bats well and we came back from being down," Bogusevic said. "We didn't build on it today, but we didn't take into the next game. It's just one game. We would have liked to have won the game, won the series, but we didn't. We have to move on."

Brian McTaggart is reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.