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Rangers battle back, but late miscue hurts

Homers by Gallo, Chirinos tie it, but Astros score eventual game-winner on error
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

HOUSTON -- Rangers center fielder Drew Robinson offered no excuses for the eighth-inning error that brought home the winning run in a 3-2 loss to the Astros on Friday night.

"I just muffed it," Robinson said. "We are taught to take a look at the runner early. I took my look, then went for the ball and missed it."

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HOUSTON -- Rangers center fielder Drew Robinson offered no excuses for the eighth-inning error that brought home the winning run in a 3-2 loss to the Astros on Friday night.

"I just muffed it," Robinson said. "We are taught to take a look at the runner early. I took my look, then went for the ball and missed it."

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Manager Jeff Banister knows these kind of games are possible, especially when the Rangers fielded a lineup that had six starters age 25 or younger. The Rangers played their first one-run game of the season, and they almost had their first comeback win.

But the Astros pulled it out with the unearned run in the eighth.

Video: TEX@HOU: Gonzalez singles, Fisher scores on an error

"There are going to be tough games like this," Banister said. "Major League Baseball can be a very thin margin. You've got to be able to handle the baseball. Mistakes can be very challenging. You've got to be locked in on every pitch."

The game was tied at 2 when the Astros' eighth-inning rally started. Kevin Jepsen walked Evan Gattis with one out, and Derek Fisher replaced him as a pinch-runner with Marwin Gonzalez at the plate. Fisher was running on a 2-1 count and Gonzalez lined a single to center. Fisher had no trouble getting to third and kept on going for the go-ahead run as the ball got by Robinson for an error.

"Our guys continue to play hard," Banister said. "They are feeling what it is like when the game gets challenging and you have to handle the pressure. Drew is coming hard. I'm not going to fault guys who are coming hard and being aggressive. We have seen Drew make some great plays."

The Rangers have lost five straight games and are 4-11 on the season. They did not lead Friday and are 0-10 when the opposing team scores first. In their 11 losses, they have had the lead in four innings.

Rangers starter Cole Hamels went six innings and allowed two solo home runs, both by George Springer. The first one came on the first pitch Hamels threw in the bottom of the first, and the other came in the fifth inning to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.

Video: TEX@HOU: Hamels fans McCann to end the inning

"I haven't really been able to give our team any sort of momentum because they're scoring first off me, and it kind of makes it tough," Hamels said. "It's a tough loss when you really look at it. Just stay with it. It's the name of the game sometimes. It's an unfortunate loss we have to take and rub off and start fresh tomorrow."

For six innings, a 2-0 lead looked like more than enough for Astros starter Gerrit Cole. He took a one-hit shutout into the top of the seventh and had struck out 12 to that point. But Joey Gallo came up with one out and hit a first-pitch changeup over the center-field wall for a home run. Two batters later, Robinson Chirinos hit one well over the left-field wall to tie the game.

Video: TEX@HOU: Chirinos evens the score with a long ball

"Definitely a tough loss, especially with the way Cole was pitching," Chirinos said. "It's tough to come out of a game like that with a loss."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With the game tied, the Rangers started a two-out rally in the eighth on singles by Jurickson Profar and Nomar Mazara against Astros reliever Will Harris. That brought up Adrian Beltre, who is 5-for-9 in his career against Harris. But Astros manager A.J. Hinch brought in side-arming Joe Smith to face Beltre, who was 4-for-21 in his career against Smith prior to that at-bat. The change worked for the Astros, as Smith got Beltre on a grounder to short to end the threat. Beltre is now 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position on the season.

SOUND SMART
Rangers first baseman Ronald Guzman and second baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa both collected their first Major League hits in the game. The last time two Rangers did that in one game was Craig Gentry and Kevin Richardson on Sept. 26, 2009, against the Rays.

Video: TEX@HOU: Guzman singles to right, gets first MLB hit

HE SAID IT
"Springer is planning whatever type of season, but it's not going to be a good one if he's planning on hitting his only home runs off me. I'm only going to face him a certain amount of games." -- Hamels, who has given up all three home runs Springer has hit this season

UP NEXT
Left-hander Mike Minor faces the Astros at 3:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. This will be Minor's second start against the Astros. He allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings in an 8-2 loss on April 1. He will be opposed by right-hander Charlie Morton for the Astros.

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.

Texas Rangers, Joey Gallo, Drew Robinson