Elvis Andrus was moved down the lineup in a move designed to help the Rangers shortstop shake a bad stretch.
A fixture at the top of the order, Andrus was penciled in the No. 8 hole by manager Ron Washington on Thursday for the series finale against the Seattle Mariners.
The game marked the first time Andrus has hit lower than second in more than three years. He hit ninth against the Yankees in April 2010.
“That’s what they think is best for the team right now,” Andrus said. “I’m not at my best right now and in the end it’s about continuing to compete.
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“I’m still in the lineup and I’m still going to do my best to help the team win.”
In his last 39 games entering Thursday, Andrus was hitting just .195 with two extra-base hits. His average had dipped 40 points, to .242.
Andrus, who went 1 for 2 Thursday and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly, is a career .271 hitter in 4 1/2 seasons.
David Murphy, who has languished this season but was 4 for 13 in the homestand entering Thursday, hit second.
“He’s been struggling for quite awhile,” Washington said. “Just want to take a little pressure off of him.”
The manager said he has no intention of sitting Andrus as long as he’s healthy.
“I know what I’m doing wrong,” Andrus said. “So I’m still working in the cage and working every day to figure it out.”
Finding his way
Rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch takes his turn on the mound for Friday’s series opener against the Houston Astros looking to end a winless streak that has reached eight games.
He’s working through a tough run, too, having gone 0-2 with an ERA above nine in his last five starts. But he does have a good game in there, limiting St. Louis to one run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings last month.
He has often found difficulty in his third time around opposing batting orders.
Tepesch and Justin Grimm have given the team just one quality start since June 1.
Much of the hardship, Ron Washington said, is caused by the adjustments both young players are making to the major league experience, which can be overwhelming by the increased significance of the games and the scrutiny that follows.
“These guys were at Double A last year and they’re here trying to compete” this year, Washington said. “They will be better for it once they go through it.”
Said Tepesch: “Baseball’s a game of ups and downs. It’s all about preparing. There’s no point in taking a different approach to it.”
Struggles vs. The Struggling
Texas has won five of six against Houston in 2013, but otherwise has struggled against sub-.500 teams.
The Rangers are 25-20 against those teams after Thursday’s victory, including 2-7 in June.
Oakland, the Rangers’ rival for the top of the AL West, meanwhile, is 34-14.
“We need to come prepared every day to play,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. The Astros “are still capable of playing good baseball.”
Manny Ramirez arrived in Round Rock on Thursday and is expected to make his debut with the Triple A Express on Sunday.
The Rangers signed Ramirez to a minor league deal on Wednesday.
He told the Austin American-Statesman, “I want to thank God for this opportunity. I never thought I was going to get another chance, but God is good and I am here.”
• Reliever Joakim Soria (Tommy John surgery) worked a second consecutive night in a rehabilitation appearance at Frisco. Soria pitched a scoreless eighth by retiring Arkansas in order.
• The Rangers announced the signing of two draft picks, right-handed pitcher Jarred Smith of State College of Florida-Manatee (14th round) and right-hander Lucas Lanphere, a 21st-round pick from Citrus Valley (Calif.) High School.
• Rangers radio broadcaster Eric Nadel missed a third game with laryngitis.