HOUSTON -- Cesar Ramos held the Astros to one run and two hits while striking out four batters in six innings and Elvis Andrus homered as the Rangers stayed unbeaten in five games against the Astros this year with a 2-1 win on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.After Ramos
HOUSTON -- Cesar Ramos held the Astros to one run and two hits while striking out four batters in six innings and Elvis Andrus homered as the Rangers stayed unbeaten in five games against the Astros this year with a 2-1 win on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
After Ramos kept the Astros at bay with finesse, manager Jeff Banister brought in his power arms out of the bullpen -- Matt Bush, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson -- to close out the victory.
"It's a different look," Banister said. "Cesar is more finesse, strikes on the edge. … To bring in power with Bush, Diekman and Dyson, it was fun to watch."
• Rangers use Ramos' guile, bullpen's power
Andrus homered into the Crawford Boxes in left field with two outs in the first off Mike Fiers for his first homer of the season, and the Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the third when Bryan Holaday doubled and scored on a single by Rougned Odor, who was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.
Astros third baseman Marwin Gonzalez led off the third inning with a home run to cut the lead to 2-1, but it wasn't enough to take advantage of a strong outing by Fiers, who allowed two runs, six hits and no walks and struck out six batters. Houston's last three games have been 2-1 losses.
"We've had our trouble scoring the last few games and really putting any sort of offense together," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "[Opponents] have faced three over the minimum, and that's not a good recipe for run-scoring.
"Most of our losses -- five one-run losses in a row -- you look back at some of the opportunities and it was minimal tonight. We got the home run from Marwin to sort of get us in the game again, but we didn't get enough hits, didn't create any sort of stress for them throughout the entire game."
• Fiers is latest victim of a hard-luck loss
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bush stays composed: The Rangers led, 2-1, in the seventh when Bush replaced Ramos. Bush struck out George Springer and Carlos Correa, then walked Evan Gattis. A single by Colby Rasmus put runners at the corners but, after a visit by pitching coach Doug Brocail, Bush retired Tyler White on a grounder to shortstop to end the inning.
"I definitely didn't want to let it get out of hand," Bush said. "But whatever the situation, I'm trying to get outs."
Marisnick keeps it close: Marisnick has been struggling at the plate all season, but Astros' center fielder made a great running catch in the fourth inning to save a pair of runs. With runners at first and second and one out, Andrus hit a fly ball into the right-field gap that Marisnick caught in front of the home bullpen following a long run for an out. He followed that up with a more routine, but still impressive, running grab on a Nomar Mazara line drive that was heading toward the left-center-field gap.
"Not getting it done too much at the plate, so to be able to take that out there and do what I can to help Mikey out there and help the team out and keep some runs off the board is nice," Marisnick said.
Andrus hits first home run: Andrus hit his first home run of the season in the second inning when he hit a full-count changeup over the left-field wall. Andrus, coming into the game, was one of nine players in the American League with at least 100 at-bats and without a home run.
"Feeling good," Andrus said of his first homer. "I was starting to get worried. That department had a zero. Got one in every other department, now I got that one."
Gone-zalez: With the Astros facing a left-hander, switch-hitter Gonzalez got the start at third against Ramos and homered from the right side of the plate in his first at-bat. Gonzalez was hitting .256 (10-for-39) against left-handers and .215 (14-for-65) against right-handers entering the game and now has two homers against each.
"We're in all these ballgames, and it's just one little thing here, one little thing there and the game goes the other way. We just have to keep plugging along. There's a lot of season left." -- Marisnick
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Two former No. 1 picks as shortstops faced off against each other when Rangers reliever Bush (2004) faced Astros shortstop Correa (2012) in the seventh inning. Bush struck out Correa swinging.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
Astros manager A.J. Hinch unsuccessfully challenged the final out call in the sixth inning on a ball hit by Jose Altuve that was caught near the ground by left fielder Ryan Rua. The call was confirmed following replay review.
Rangers: Left-hander Cole Hamels puts his 11-game winning streak on the line when he pitches against the Astros at 1:10 p.m. Sunday. Hamels is 3-2 with a 4.91 ERA in six career starts at Minute Maid.
Astros: Left-hander Dallas Keuchel takes the mound in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. CT series finale against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park looking for his first win since April 15. In his last six starts, he's gone 0-4 with a 7.32 ERA, though he's coming off quality start of 6 1/3 innings on Tuesday in Chicago.
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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.