Once again, Lyles endures rough fifth in loss

Once again, Lyles endures rough fifth in loss

Once again, Lyles endures rough fifth in loss
ARLINGTON -- The Astros remain convinced that starting pitcher Jordan Lyles, who's still only 21 and bursting with potential, will get things figured out eventually and live up to that promise and his budding stuff.

He's certainly not there yet, even though he keeps showing just enough to make you believe he's about to turn the corner and is perhaps nearing a breakout performance. The next step in his maturation process didn't happen Friday night.

For the second straight start, Lyles threw four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth and not being able to survive the damage. The Rangers strung together five consecutive singles off Lyles and pushed across five runs to coast to a 6-2 win over the Astros at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"No one to blame except myself again for the fifth inning," Lyles said. "I hit [Elvis] Andrus and then I gave up five base hits back-to-back-to-back and didn't give our team a chance in that fifth inning. I've got to do a better job of putting guys away when I'm ahead."

Meanwhile, Rangers starter Yu Darvish, facing the Astros for the first time, struck out a career-high-tying 11 and held the Astros to seven hits and two runs in eight innings to drop Houston to 1-3 against Texas this year.

In 13 games in June, Astros batters have reached double-digit strikeouts 10 times, averaging 11.2 strikeouts per game in the month. It's fair to point out they've faced some tough pitching, especially recently, with San Francisco's Matt Cain striking out 14 Astros en route to a perfect game Wednesday.

"I think, honestly, most of it is who we're facing," Astros first baseman Brett Wallace said. "We're facing some guys that have strikeout stuff. They're going to go at you and try to get ahead and put you away. They're not going to go out there and pound sinkers and try to get ground balls all day. They definitely have strikeout stuff."

Darvish (8-4), who's tied for the American League lead in wins, certainly has strikeout ability. His three double-digit strikeout games are tied for the Major League lead with R.A. Dickey, Madison Bumgarner and Cain. Bumgarner struck out 12 Astros on Tuesday.

Houston manager Brad Mills said his club might have to tweak its approach at the plate.

"There's some extra steps we're going to look at and talk to a few guys about a few things, but at the same time, if the balls are outside the zone, we don't want to become chasers, either," he said. "We're going to try to look at everything."

Lyles had matched Darvish through four innings and was pitching with a one-run lead after Jose Altuve walked to start the third, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Jed Lowrie that snapped his 0-for-15 drought.

"In the early part of the game, I was very careful throwing strikes and getting the rhythm of the game," Darvish said. "The second half, I really went after it. Overall I was able to throw a lot of strikes and it was a very good outing."

Lyles (1-3) carried a three-hit shutout into the fifth before things quickly went awry, beginning with a one-out throwing error by third baseman Chris Johnson.

"You can call that inning my fault if you want. I don't mind," Johnson said. "I made an error, started the inning. It is what it is."

Lyles then grazed Andrus with a pitch, and the next five hitters singled, two of which were bloopers. That only added to the frustration.

"Some of them were up and some were good pitches," Lyles said. "Credit to them. No one to blame. They did a good job of putting the ball where no one was."

Adrian Beltre gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead with a single, but the big blow came when David Murphy floated a single to center with the bases loaded to score a pair. Lyles was pulled after allowing an RBI single to Yorvit Torrealba that made it 5-1.

"A lot of time when things start happening, you try to do a little bit more and that might be the case," Mills said. "I think we said in Chicago that we thought that he might have deserved a little bit better. You can say exactly the same thing about tonight."

Lyles' start was indeed strikingly similar to his previous outing against the White Sox in which he began with four scoreless innings before giving up five runs in the fifth and not being able to escape the inning.

"It's something we don't want to be a trend, and tonight it was really too bad," Mills said. "He said he didn't feel like the game's getting away from him. He was cruising along so well and throwing the ball so well, and even some of those hits really weren't stung by the found the holes."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com 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.