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Rangers erase big deficit, but fall late to Astros

Houston scores go-ahead run on delayed 9th-inning balk call
MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Ranger closer Keone Kela didn't come to a full stop in his delivery with two outs and the game tied during the ninth inning, and the eventual balk call that resulted ultimately cost his team in an 8-7 loss to the Astros on Sunday at Globe Life Park.

With runners on second and third, Kela was called for a balk on a 1-2 pitch to Evan Gattis, but only after Astros manager AJ Hinch came out to challenge the play.

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ARLINGTON -- Ranger closer Keone Kela didn't come to a full stop in his delivery with two outs and the game tied during the ninth inning, and the eventual balk call that resulted ultimately cost his team in an 8-7 loss to the Astros on Sunday at Globe Life Park.

With runners on second and third, Kela was called for a balk on a 1-2 pitch to Evan Gattis, but only after Astros manager AJ Hinch came out to challenge the play.

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"It's clear as day what happened," Hinch said. "It's a weird play, caught everybody off-guard, including the umpire crew. It's an illegal pitch with a runner on third. Kela does that all the time with nobody on third. He was so focused on the hitter, he decided to go to a quick pitch, which you can't do. It's a balk. Once the umpires convened, they got the call right."

After the umpires met to discuss the play, Kela was called for the balk, prompting Rangers manager Jeff Banister to come out of the dugout to argue the call. Banister was eventually ejected.

Video: HOU@TEX: Banister ejected for arguing balk in the 9th

"When [Kela] brought the pitch without stopping, we had to get together to make sure that he hadn't announced to Fonzie [home plate umpire Alfonzo Marquez] that he was throwing from the windup position," said umpire crew chief Sam Holbrook. "So when Fonzie said 'No, he did not announce that to me,' then he was throwing from the stretch position, and he did not stop, so that was what the balk was called for."

Banister said his concern was that nobody on the field originally called a balk.

"There was nothing. No umpire called a balk," he said. "Their manager came out and I guess was arguing for a balk. The explanation to me was Keone didn't tell anybody he was going out of the windup. Unfortunate. I've never seen a non-balk call turned over and called a balk.

"Part of the game. I haven't looked at the video to see what Keone did. My argument was I didn't know we could come out and get the umpires to convene to see what everybody comes up with."

Kela said he has used the quick pitch before, and he wasn't sure what the initial call was when it was made.

"I felt I had come to a stop, then made my pitch," Kela said. "But under the umpire's discretion, it wasn't enough time for me to hold the ball, so the runner got to advance."

The Rangers had to fight their way back into Sunday's series finale against the Astros after left-handed starter Matt Moore found himself in a quick hole and was chased early.

Moore was tagged for six runs (five earned) on nine hits in three innings, including a leadoff home run to George Springer on his first pitch of the game. Alex Bregman also hit a two-run triple in the second. Moore's ERA rose to 7.88, the highest among MLB starters with at least 11 starts.

"If I knew what I need, or if somebody around us knew what I needed, we'd go there. But I think this is the way baseball goes sometimes," Moore said. "I hope it's not going to continue this way."

The Astros' fast start on offense gave starter Dallas Keuchel a 6-0 lead, but the Rangers were able to slowly close the gap. Shin-Soo Choo hit a two-run single in the second, Carlos Perez smacked a two-run single to right in the third, and Ronald Guzman added an RBI single in the fifth to tie the game at 6.

Video: HOU@TEX: Guzman scores Odor with a single to left

The Rangers tied the game again in the eighth after Nomar Mazara scored on Adrian Beltre's single to center, but they were unable to tie it again in the ninth. The loss is Texas' sixth straight to Houston.

Video: HOU@TEX: Banister talks controversial loss to Houston

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Perez comes through: With two outs in the third and the Rangers trailing, 6-2, Perez hit a two-run single to center to cut the Astros' lead to two. Entering the game, Perez was 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and his only RBI of the season came on a home run on May 13 against the Astros.

Video: HOU@TEX: Perez lines a 2-run single to center field

SOUND SMART
The Rangers recorded 13 hits off Keuchel, matching his career high in hits allowed in a start. The last time he gave up 13 hits was against the Rangers on April 21, 2016. The Rangers have had 13 hits off a single pitcher twice since the start of 2015, and both have been against Keuchel at Globe Life Park.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Beltre had an RBI single in the eighth to tie the game. Beltre had three hits on the day and has 3,087 for his career, two shy of Ichiro Suzuki for 21st all-time. Suzuki holds the all-time record for a non-U.S. native.

Video: HOU@TEX: Beltre rips a game-tying RBI knock in 8th

HE SAID IT
"I feel umpires miss calls all the time and never get together and reverse the call. It's a tough loss." -- Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields, who had three hits and flashed his speed in two of them

Video: HOU@TEX: DeShields sprints 31.3 ft./sec for singles

UP NEXT
Veteran righty Bartolo Colon will start the Rangers' opener against the Dodgers on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Colon will be aiming for the most wins by a pitcher from the Dominican Republic after tying Juan Marichal's record of 243 on Wednesday against the A's. Game time is 9:10 p.m. CT, and the Dodgers' starter has not been announced.

Wesley Dotson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas.

Texas Rangers