ARLINGTON, Texas - Needing only a single to complete the cycle, Mike Lamb still looked for a pitch to drive. The Houston infielder got one — and was robbed of another home run.
Texas Rangers center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. sprinted, leaped and stuck his glove over the eight-foot wall for a tremendous catch to end the eighth inning. Even Lamb applauded after standing in the infield and watching the replay on the scoreboard.
“It’s going to go on the highlights for a while, and it should,” Lamb said. “It just stinks that it happened to me.”
Lamb still went 3-for-5, drove in three runs and scored three times in the Astros’ 7-0 victory Saturday that snapped a four-game losing streak.
Rookie right-hander Taylor Buchholz (5-6) baffled the Rangers again, allowing only two singles over seven shutout innings. He threw a five-hit shutout against Texas on May 21.
Lamb put the Astros up 1-0 in the first when he doubled and scored on Morgan Ensberg’s double. His seventh homer came in the third, and Lamb had a two-run triple in the seventh.
When Lamb batted again, he wasn’t settling for a single even with the chance to become only the sixth Houston player to hit for the cycle — and first since Craig Biggio in 2002.
“Maybe I should have tried for a single,” Lamb quipped after the game. “As much as hitting for the cycle is great — and it probably won’t ever happen for me — I don’t know how many times I’ve hit two home runs in a game.”
Never in his 651 major league games (52 homers) after Matthews, an All-Star candidate with his .326 batting average, made the incredible catch.
“I didn’t think he had a chance at it. I thought he was just jumping for the heck of it. Next thing you knew, he pulled it in. A fantastic play,” Astros manager Phil Garner said.
Before the game, Lamb had X-rays on the ring finger of his left hand — sore from a line shot he caught Friday night. He even talked to Garner about not playing, but started at first base — with extra padding in his glove — while Lance Berkman was the designated hitter.
Houston, with a 3-2 lead in the Lone Star Series, reached the midpoint of its season at 39-42 — the same record the defending NL champion had last year. The Rangers also played their 81st game, and are 41-40.
Buchholz, 1-3 in six starts since his Texas shutout, struck out six and walked three. Chad Qualls, Dave Borkowski and Trever Miller combined to pitch the final two innings, completing a three-hitter for the Astros’ eighth shutout.
“It’s frustrating. Buchholz pitched well, but against other teams he’s had his problems,” said Rangers manager Buck Showalter, his team shut out for the fourth time.
The Rangers didn’t get a hit until Ian Kinsler had a two-out single in the fifth, the only inning they got two runners on against Buchholz. Matthews led off the sixth with a single.
The Astros got two runners on to start the seventh and chase John Wasdin (1-1) after consecutive fielding blunders by shortstop Michael Young.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Ron Mahay replaced Wasdin and faced only one batter. Lamb — whose major league career began with the Rangers from 2000-03 — hit a triple into the right-center field gap for a 4-0 lead. Berkman drove him home with a single.
Wasdin, activated from the disabled list before Saturday’s game, allowed four runs (three earned) and five hits. He sprained his right thumb on a comebacker in his last start June 11 at Boston.
With Mark Teixeira at DH, Mark DeRosa made his first career start at first base and became the first player in the majors this season to start at six different spots. He has also started at second base, shortstop, third base, left field, right field and DH for Texas.
The Rangers’ third ended with an unusual double play. Brad Wilkerson was thrown out trying to go from first to third after Matthews struck out on a wild pitch, a ball that ricocheted off catcher Eric Munson to the dugout along the first-base side. Munson chased it down and threw out Wilkerson, who overslid the base with his headfirst slide.
Notes: X-rays on Chris Burke’s sore big left toe were negative, but he didn’t play Saturday for the Astros. He was at 2B and hurt in a collision with CF Taveras on a defensive play Friday. Taveras was spiked on the inner thigh. ... Three players started at six different positions last season: Chone Figgins for the Los Angeles Angels, Chris Woodward for the New York Mets and Luis Gonzalez for Colorado.
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