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Altuve's missed chance highlights 'tough' loss

'We have to go home and pick ourselves up,' Hinch says after sweep

ARLINGTON -- When you're in the sort of tailspin the Astros are going through, it's natural for players to press. It's natural for them to try to do too much, especially when you're one of the best hitters coming up in a big spot late in the game.

All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve had a chance to change Thursday's night game when he stepped to the plate in the seventh inning with runners at first and second and no outs and trailing by just a run. Altuve hit into a double play, and the Astros couldn't threaten again in an 8-2 loss to the Rangers that polished off a shocking four-game sweep at Globe Life Park.

"I think my problem there was I didn't have a plan," Altuve said. "I wanted to do more than I should do. I wanted to win the game with one swing, and I didn't think about something else. The emotions got in my head. I wanted to hit the ball and I hit into a double play."

Altuve, who went 0-for-4, briefly showed bunt on the second pitch of the at-bat against reliever Keone Kela, but swung at the third pitch and hit a hard grounder to Adrian Beltre at third. He stepped on the base and threw across the diamond for the double play. George Springer struck out to end the rally.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said the bunt wasn't an option.

"We had first and second with our best hitter up, so we're going to try to get some runs," Hinch said. "As we found out, the runs in this ballpark can come fast. We had first and second and no outs with our top of the order coming up, Altuve, Springer, [Carlos] Correa. Best chance to get multiple runs. Taking outs away with nine outs left is tough. He squared on his own. I don't know if he saw something or was uncomfortable after the first pitch, but then went back to swinging and hit a double play."

The Astros struggled offensively throughout the series, getting outscored 33-13 by a Rangers team that is a tough matchup for them.

"It's tough because I don't think anybody here wants to do something wrong for the team," Altuve said. "Everybody wants to help the team. I'm really happy the way everybody is playing right now, everybody is playing hard but we're not winning games and we're not hitting a lot. The things aren't going good for us the last four games, but everyone's playing hard. That's all I can ask for."

The Astros went 2-8 on their crucial 10-game trip and scored more than three runs only four times, including a furious ninth-inning rally Sunday in Anaheim in which they avoided getting swept. They couldn't build on that momentum heading into the showdown with the Rangers.

"At this time of year, momentum is about as long as one game, you know," Hinch said. "Obviously, we had a couple of tight games and got blown out and today's game was really close until the very end. I'm sure this is what it felt like when we swept L.A., we swept Toronto. We've swept some playoff-caliber teams similar to how we just got swept. It's not a great taste in our mouth. We have to go home and pick ourselves up and learn from it and be better quickly."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Houston Astros, Jose Altuve