HOUSTON -- Rangers starter Colby Lewis, in the midst of trying to complete a shutout, gave up a leadoff home run to Jed Lowrie in the bottom of the ninth and manager Ron Washington went to the mound. Lewis started to hand him the ball and walk off, but Washington wasn't done with him just yet."I just wanted to congratulate him on how far he brought us," Washington said. "Then I said, 'Now you can give me the ball.'" Lewis deserved the salute from the manager, both for his pitching and his hitting. His two-run single finished off a five-run first inning and then he pitched the Rangers to a 6-1 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Sunday afternoon. Lewis was able to snap a three-game losing streak and the Rangers were able to take two of three from the Astros. The Lone Star Series will resume June 15-17 in Arlington, but the Rangers might be at a disadvantage because Lewis, under American League rules, won't be able to swing a bat if he pitches in that series. "Having things not go my way my last few times out, I wanted to bounce back and go deep in the game," Lewis said. "Jumping out to a lead like that, my job was to throw strikes and force the issue. It made it a lot easier." "Colby was great," first baseman Michael Young said. "He was just going after guys. He's so much fun to play behind because he has so much confidence and just trusts his stuff. He did a great job.
"And he swung it well, too."Lewis added another single in the fifth inning to give him two hits on the day. Lewis was also 2-for-4 with a two-run single on June 13, 2010, in a 7-2 victory over the Brewers. He has all four RBIs by a Rangers pitcher since the beginning of 2006. The only other Rangers pitcher to have two hits in a game since the designated hitter rule was adopted in 1973 was Chan Ho Park against the Marlins on June 10, 2005. The only other Rangers pitcher with two RBIs in a game is Darren Oliver on June 18, 1997, against Colorado. "I like playing in the National League and getting my hacks," Lewis said. "It was a lot of fun." The other big hit for the Rangers in the first inning was a two-run single by Nelson Cruz. It was the first of three hits for him on the day. Cruz also had a single in the ninth when center fielder Justin Maxwell fumbled his fly ball trying to make a sliding catch. Young, running from first, thought Maxwell made the catch and retreated to the base. Cruz also thought Maxwell caught the ball and ended up passing Young between first and second. He was called out on the bizarre play that really didn't matter in the end. The Rangers took control of this game in the first inning, and Lewis did the rest with his pitching. "He's a guy that's not going to overpower you with anything, but he executed his pitches, and when he does that he can make quick work of you," Lowrie said. "If you can string a few hits together, there's an opportunity to have a big inning, but it just didn't happen today." Four of the five runs in the first inning against Astros starter Jordan Lyles came across with two outs. Ian Kinsler led off with a single to center and then moved to third when Elvis Andrus grounded a hit-and-run single through the right side. Josh Hamilton brought Kinsler home with a sacrifice fly to center. After Adrian Beltre flied to deep left-center, Young lined a double to right-center to put runners on second and third. With first base open, Lyles decided to pitch around David Murphy and walked him on four pitches. "I was trying to go down and away," Lyles said. "I left the first three pitches up and there was no reason to throw him a cookie after that, so I put him on." That loaded the bases for Cruz. Lyles, throwing all breaking pitches, got ahead with two quick strikes and then got Cruz to bounce one foul. "At that point I'm just trying to put the ball in play," Cruz said. Lyles then threw one more slider, and Cruz lined it to left to drive home two runs. "A huge hit ... hopefully that will jump-start him and get him going," Washington said. "My mistakes were over the plate," Lyles said. "Really that first inning just came down to the Nelson Cruz at-bat. I had him 0-2 and tried to throw a curveball in the dirt and he fouled it off. And then I tried to go slider away and left it over the plate and two runs came in." Lyles then hit Yorvit Torrealba to bring up Lewis. Lyles threw a fastball for strike one, then Lewis made contact with a cut fastball and flared it into right-center to drive home two more runs. "I wanted to take one pitch and get my timing down," Lewis said. "They said he was a fastball, breaking ball, cutter guy. He threw me a cutter away. I kind of jammed myself and the ball fell in. I was excited about it." Especially because he was the pitcher who benefited from the offense, and he made it stand up for the rest of the afternoon.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.