Bonilla makes team history, wins first three starts

Rookie tosses six scoreless; Martin's stunning throw sparks victory

Bonilla makes team history, wins first three starts

ARLINGTON -- Lisalverto Bonilla has become the first Rangers pitcher to win his first three Major League starts. A terrific bunt and almost impossible throw by center fielder Leonys Martin made it happen.

Bonilla threw six scoreless innings as the Rangers completed a three-game sweep of the Astros with a 5-1 victory on Wednesday night. The Rangers have won 11 of their last 12 games and are 12-6 under manager Tim Bogar.

"It's great to win three in a row against anybody," Bogar said. "These guys believe in what they are doing and believe in each other. They go out there every night believing they have a chance to win and expect to win. That's the attitude we have to have to the end of the year, through the winter and into next year. We're not a 100-loss team, we're better than that and these guys are starting to show it."

Bonilla allowed four hits and two walks while striking out seven, leaving him 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his three starts. Six other Rangers pitchers won their first two Major League starts -- the last being Alexi Ogando in 2011 -- but Bonilla is the only one to win three straight.

"I feel very happy, emotional," Bonilla said. "It's something really big for me to be the first to win my first three in a row like that."

"Bonilla did a wonderful job," Bogar said. "As the night went on, he got sharper and commanded all three of his pitches. He doesn't have a heartbeat on the mound. He doesn't get excited. He's really calm, he's really confident and he has shown his ability the last three games."

Astros starter Scott Feldman went six innings against his former team and allowed just one run. It was his second start this season against his former team in Arlington. He threw seven scoreless on April 11 but the Astros lost, 1-0, in 12 innings.

Martin kept the Astros from scoring in the third inning when it was still a scoreless ballgame, showing again why he has one of the best outfield arms in baseball.

The Astros had Robbie Grossman, their leadoff hitter, on second with two outs when Jake Marisnick hit a soft line drive up the middle for a single. The ball fell in so shallow that second baseman Rougned Odor leapt up trying to catch the ball. By the time the ball reached Martin, it had already taken three bounces and Grossman was already around third base.

"I thought I could get the guy but just wanted to keep it low so I could hit the cutoff man," Martin said.

The cutoff man was first baseman Ryan Rua and he made no attempt to do so.

"His arm is something I never saw before, coming up through the Minors Leagues, but I've seen a lot the last couple of weeks," Rua said. "He has a great arm so why not let it go."

Martin made a throw that was as powerful as it was accurate. Grossman tried to slide around catcher Tomas Telis. But Telis grabbed the throw and made a quick tag for the out. Astros manager Tom Lawless sauntered out to home plate to meet with umpire Seth Buckminster but declined to challenge the call.

"Incredible, absolutely incredible," Bogar said.

"It was a pretty good throw," Astros manager Tom Lawless said. "We know he can throw. We know he's very aggressive. He threw the ball right where he needed to throw it. If it's a foot one way or another, he's safe at home."

Martin then set up the Rangers' first run in the fifth when he beat out a one-out bunt. It was his 16th bunt hit of the season, the most in the American League and the third most in one season in Rangers history. The club record is 23 set by Otis Nixon in 1995.

Elvis Andrus then grounded a double down the third-base line. The ball ended up in the corner and Martin scored from first base to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

After Feldman left the game, the Rangers broke it open against reliever Jose Veras in the seventh. Odor led off with his ninth home run of the season and Rua later added a three-run shot. It was his second home run since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Aug. 29.

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.