Woody Williams yielded back-to-back homers to Sammy Sosa and Marlon Byrd to begin the inning, which gave the Rangers a 5-3 lead. But that wasn't Williams' only undoing. He wasn't good from the very start, allowing three hits in the opening frame while walking four en route to his 10th loss of the season. Williams threw 103 pitches during this abbreviated outing.
He issued three straight walks in the third but escaped trouble when he coaxed a popout and a grounder, and he looked to be back on track in the fourth after recording three quick outs. But he didn't register an out in the fifth, yielding an infield hit to Michael Young before Sosa and Byrd gave the lead back to the Rangers.
"I was surprised he walked three guys in one inning," manager Phil Garner said. "Then he got out of it and had a nice fourth inning and I thought, 'Well maybe he's going to get on a little roll.' Obviously, that didn't work.
"I was a little surprised by it. He kept missing with his fastball tonight. Normally, he locates fairly well. He didn't do that tonight."
Despite throwing more than 70 pitches in the first three innings, Williams said he felt strong heading into the fourth and fifth.
"I didn't get tired," he said. "It just snowballed. It's the way the season's gone for me. Hopefully, it'll correct itself and I can get on a nice little roll and help the team win some ballgames."
But so far, no one's winning -- the Astros, or Williams. The team is 11 games under .500 at 31-42. Williams has sunk to 3-10, putting him on pace to easily lose 20 games this year.
"I can't believe it," Williams said of the 10 losses. "It's disheartening at times but I can't change it. All I can do is go out there next time and rebound and do the best I can. I'm trying. It's not like I'm giving up or want my teammates to give up. They battled back twice today and I wasn't able to hold them."
Left-hander Stephen Randolph relieved Williams in the fifth and promptly issued a walk to Frank Catalanotto. He yielded a two-run homer to Brad Wilkerson and after several more hits and walks, Randolph ended his fourth Astros appearance this year with five more runs on his record, over the course of two innings.
After that, the Astros offense quietly shut down. They did not produce a single baserunner in the final four innings.
"It takes a lot out of you to stand out there that long," Mike Lamb said, referring to the bottom of the fifth. "That's not an excuse for why we didn't score more runs but it's hard to be out there that long."
Lamb, a former Ranger, wants nothing more than to beat his former club. Blowout losses like Friday's -- or their 14-1 defeat on May 20 in Houston -- don't sit well with the third baseman, whose 2-for-4 night wasn't nearly enough to overcome the Rangers' offensive output.
"We need to pick up our pitchers when that stuff happens," Lamb said. "But over the course of a season, that stuff does happen. We know that they're going to go through hard times and they know we're going to go through hard times. The thing we need to do when that happens, is pick each other up. We will."
Craig Biggio provided one of the few bright moments in this game, singling off Kevin Millwood in the fifth to mark his 2,993rd career hit.
Berkman extended his hitting streak to 10 with a solo homer in the first frame, his ninth long ball of the year.
Other than that, the Astros were left scratching their heads. They played well in Anaheim and lost two of three, and on Friday, they were baffled by the team with the worst record in the American League.
Still, their confidence has not wavered.
"If we were going to quit, we would have quit a long time ago," Williams said. "The last two weeks we lost a lot of ballgames that we could have and should have won. Whether it's me tonight not going out and making a couple pitches in the fifth inning and keeping the momentum on our side after we scored some runs, or it's a play here or a hit there. We're not going to quit. We just got beat tonight."