Rangers sweep Astros despite some missing pieces

They didn’t have Ian Kinsler or Nelson Cruz in the lineup, and starter Nick Tepesch entered with an 8.44 ERA over his last two starts.

That didn’t slow the Texas Rangers, though, or help the Houston Astros on Sunday afternoon. Every Rangers starter recorded a hit, the offense produced a season-high in runs and Tepesch got back on track during a 12-7 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

The Rangers completed a three-game sweep of the Astros, owners of the worst record in the major leagues. With the win, the Rangers now have the best record in the majors.

“It’s always nice to sweep, but it doesn’t matter who,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “It’s not easy to just come out here and win. Just because it’s the Astros, it’s not easy.”

Beltre paced the offense with four hits and four RBIs, Leury Garcia had three hits and scored four runs as Kinsler’s replacement at second base and David Murphy extended his hitting streak to seven games with a two-run homer.

The Rangers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double by Lance Berkman, and then broke loose for four runs in the third, three in the fourth and four more in the fifth.

Beltre doubled and scored in the third, had an RBI double in the fourth and then launched a three-run homer in the fifth that was originally ruled a double.

At the time, Beltre didn’t know if it would be overturned. But he knew it was a good sign that he dropped to a knee after the swing, which has become his home run pose.

“When I do that, I’m keeping my head on the ball and swinging the bat better,” Beltre said.

The replays showed that the ball hit above the fence in left-center field, and Beltre’s one-run double turned into a three-run homer.

Manager Ron Washington called Beltre’s performance “outstanding,” but tabbed Garcia as the surprise player of the game.

Garcia, who hadn’t started in more than two weeks, became the first Rangers rookie to record three or more hits and four or more runs in a game since Jarrod Saltalamacchia had four hits and five runs in the Rangers’ 30-run game against Baltimore in 2007.

“It’s awesome,” Garcia said. “I felt great and was ready for the game.”

In all, the Rangers scored a season-high 12 runs on 17 hits. The 17 hits were one shy of the season-high 18 against Boston on May 3.

Pitching with a lead is always nice, Tepesch said, but returning to his early season form was the priority.

Tepesch had struggled in his previous two starts, allowing five earned runs in each of them. He was pulled after four innings in his last start against the Cubs, and worked on commanding his pitches between starts.

He used his four-seam fastball and sinker effectively, retiring 10 straight before giving up a two-out homer to Jason Castro in the fourth inning.

That was Tepesch’s only run allowed over six innings. He walked one and had a career-high eight strikeouts.

“It’s something to build off of and take into the next start,” said Tepesch, who is 3-3 with a 4.03 ERA over seven starts.

Tepesch then downplayed the idea his starts are auditions to prove he belongs in the big leagues with Colby Lewis and Martin Perez on the road to recovery.

“That kind of goes as an outside thing,” he said. “You don’t really want to focus on it. “It’s more of sticking to who I am as a pitcher and trying to get this team a win every time I go out.”

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