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Moehler does his part, offense doesn't

Moehler does his part, offense doesn't

HOUSTON -- Looking at Brian Moehler's pitching line on Saturday against the Rangers, it looked as if he would have no trouble earning his first win of the season. He only allowed one hit, after all.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

Yet one walk ended any hope of that elusive win in a 5-1 loss. With one out in the second, Moehler gave up a free pass to David Murphy in a 12-pitch at-bat. The next hitter, Justin Smoak, took advantage of Moehler and homered to right to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

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"The walk before beat us more than anything," Moehler said. "If I don't walk him, I'd pitch to him different."

The walk was one of four Moehler had on the day. And of the four, it was by far the most costly. Because other than that homer, the Rangers couldn't do much against Moehler through six innings.

"You can't say enough about Moehler and how well he pitched," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "The big at-bat was Murphy's at-bat. It just kind of led into the next at-bat."

While Moehler was pitching well for the Astros, Rangers starter Colby Lewis was even better for the Rangers. He threw a complete-game two-hitter, striking out nine Astros and walking none.

"I was able to get my breaking ball over whenever I needed to," Lewis said. "It makes a big difference when I do that. That sets up all my other pitches."

Astros hitters made it easy on Lewis, though. Five hitters swung at the first pitch against him and three swung at the second pitch. For the game, only four balls traveled outside the infield.

Hunter Pence ended Lewis' bid for a perfect game in the fifth, when he beat out a grounder to third for an infield hit. Yet on the next pitch, Pedro Feliz grounded into a double play to end the threat.

The only other hit the Astros had was in the eighth. Michael Bourn laced a ball down the right-field line for a double. Jeff Keppinger popped out in the infield for the first out, and Lance Berkman grounded out to second, which advanced Bourn to third. Bourn eventually scored on a wild pitch from Lewis to cut the lead to 2-1.

But any thoughts of a rally ended when the Rangers came up to bat in the eighth. With two outs, Brandon Lyon gave up a single to Josh Hamilton and then walked Murphy. Smoak again hurt the Astros with a single to add a run to the Rangers' total. Pinch-hitter Vladimir Guerrero then lined another single to center to make it 4-1.

The Rangers scored again in the ninth on a homer by Michael Young, but Lewis didn't need it. After his one mistake on a wild pitch, Astros hitters continued to struggle against him.

"He worked quick," Pence said of Lewis. "He threw lots of strikes. He stuck it to us, and we weren't able to get anything going on him."

Steve Gartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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