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Astros outslugged in third straight loss

Astros outslugged in third straight loss

HOUSTON -- For the second straight game, Nelson Cruz provided the knockout punch against the Astros, going deep twice in the Rangers' 6-3 win over Houston in Game 2 of the Lone Star Series.

Miguel Tejada homered for the third time in four games, but Cruz one-upped the Astros shortstop, going deep twice off Astros starter Brian Moehler and finishing with four RBIs as Texas evened the all-time series between the two clubs at 25-25 and dropped the Astros to 1-4 on the homestand.

"Those guys are very good hitters, and if you make mistakes, they will make you pay," manager Cecil Cooper said. "Today, we got a run early, but then kind of shut it down and allowed them to get back in the game, and when we tried to crank it back up again, the hole was too deep."

Moehler came into the start having allowed only five runs over three starts since returning from the disabled list after suffering a sprained right knee. He looked to be in control early, but he gave up six runs on nine hits over five innings, and admitted that he stopped locating his pitches.

Moehler threw 25 pitches in the first three innings, 20 for strikes, while retiring the first nine Rangers hitters of the game. He ran into trouble in the fourth as he threw 28 pitches, giving up four hits, including a three-run home run to Cruz that put Texas ahead, 3-1.

"He looked really sharp early, but I don't know what happened after that," Cooper said. "After the home run ball, he wasn't really the same. He just didn't seem to hit his spots after that."

The Rangers would add a run in the fifth when Carlos Lee bobbled a single off the bat of Omar Vizquel, allowing Elvis Andrus to score. Hunter Pence and Kazuo Matsui teamed up to throw Vizquel out at the plate after David Murphy doubled in the next at-bat. Matsui fired a relay throw home from Pence, who chased down the ball after it rolled into the right-field corner, nailing Vizquel at the plate to keep the score 4-1.

Cruz homered again to lead off the sixth, his 11th of the year and third home run in four at-bats. Hank Blalock followed Cruz with a homer of his own on the very next pitch, giving the Rangers a 6-1 lead and chasing Moehler from the game.

"I just didn't locate well today," Moehler said. "In the last couple innings, I just simply didn't locate. I made some good pitches at times, but the home runs were just poorly located."

Tejada and Geoff Blum provided the only Astros offense off of Rangers starter Scott Feldman, who improved to 3-0.

Tejada's home run in the first was his fifth of the season and just snuck over the right-field wall and out of the reach of Cruz's glove. After Tejada circled the bases, the umpires got together and decided to use instant replay after Cruz argued that a fan had interfered with his attempt to catch the ball.

The umpires upheld the call, resulting in a series of celebratory high-fives in the Astros dugout after a few moments of doubt during the review.

"I wasn't really worried. I knew if it wasn't [a homer], I would be at second," Tejada said. "I know it's hard to hit a home run, but either way I was happy to have got a hit."

The long ball by Tejada would be the only offense the Astros would muster against Feldman through six innings. Blum finally broke through with his first home run of the season and first in 176 at-bats in the seventh, a two-run shot to right-center field that pulled the Astros to within 6-3.

"Sometimes you just have to give credit to the pitcher," Astros catcher Ivan Rodriguez said about Feldman. "He did a good job today. He threw a lot of strikes and let us put the ball in play."

Jason Grodsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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