HOUSTON -- Maybe a two-hit, two-RBI game by Colby Lewis is all the Texas Rangers need to get jumpstarted. It worked back in 2010 when Lewis did it against Milwaukee in the second game of what turned into an 11-game winning streak for Texas.
The Rangers would like to see similar results this season after a similar performance by Lewis. He had another two-hit, two-RBI game and pitched just as well as he swung the bat, leading the Rangers to a 6-1 victory over the Astros on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
The Rangers took the series 2-1, winning for the third time in their last seven games.
Lewis worked eight scoreless innings but saw his shutout bid come to an end when Jed Lowrie sent a 3-2 fastball over the right-field fence to lead off the ninth. Still, it was an impressive outing for Lewis, who had been on a three-game losing streak.
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"I just wanted to bounce back and go deep in the game," said Lewis, who allowed four hits with one walk and six strikeouts in his deepest outing of the year. "Once we jumped out there in the first, I knew I had to go out there and throw strikes and go deep especially for our bullpen."
The Rangers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first against Astros starter Jordan Lyles. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus started the game with consecutive singles, and Josh Hamilton drove in Kinsler with a sacrifice fly to center.
With two outs, Michael Young doubled to right-center to put runners at second and third. David Murphy drew an intentional walk and then Nelson Cruz came through with a two-run single to left. After Yorvit Torrealba reached on a hit-by-pitch, Lewis flared a two-run single into shallow center.
"I jammed myself a little bit, but it fell in for a hit," Lewis said. "So, yeah, it was exciting."
Lewis had an infield single in the fifth, too, marking the third time in franchise history a pitcher has had a two-hit game. Lewis went 2 for 4 against Milwaukee on June 13, 2010, and Chan Ho Park had a two-hit game in 2005.
For the offense in the long run, though, Cruz's day was more important. The two-out, two-run single in the first came on an 0-2 slider to give Texas a 3-0 lead.
"It was a huge hit," manager Ron Washington said. "I hope that's something that can jump-start him."
Cruz struggled in two clutch situations the past week. He struck out swinging with a runner on third and one out in the ninth of a 4-4 game against Oakland on Thursday. On Saturday against the Astros, he flew out to shallow right with runners at first and second and the Rangers down 6-5 in the eighth.
"It's part of the game," Cruz said. "You've got to stick with your plan and trust what you have."
That approach worked for Cruz as he delivered two more hits Sunday, singles in the seventh and ninth. His single to center field was originally ruled a flyout, but the ball dropped in safely and Cruz was out passing Michael Young at first base.
Murphy extended the Rangers' lead to 6-0 in the fifth with a solo home run to left, his second in as many games. But the star of the game remained Lewis.
He had a stretch from the first through the eighth in which he retired 22 of 24 batters. The Astros didn't have a runner reach third base until the sixth inning, and Lewis ended that threat by getting Carlos Lee to ground out.
"What Colby did today, he's done before," Washington said. "He was able to spot his fastball around the zone down. He had a tremendous breaking ball, which is Colby's forte. And he had a real good changeup.
"It's nice to see him get back on track."