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Astros fall on historic night for Pudge

Astros fall on historic night for Pudge

ARLINGTON -- It's not like the Astros have been piling up wins at any point during this season, but shortstop Miguel Tejada has noticed a troubling trend that continued Tuesday night.

"Sooner or later, we need to start playing better baseball right after a day off," said Tejada, who went 2-for-3 in the Astros' lackluster 6-1 loss to the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The loss dropped Houston to 2-5 in games played after a scheduled off-day and to 0-4 this year against the Rangers, who clinched the Silver Boot, which is awarded annually to the team that wins the Lone Star Series. The Rangers (36-27) have won the series three years in a row.

The Astros (29-33) had won 11 of 16 games overall prior to Monday's day off, winning five consecutive series for the first time this year. But they managed just five hits (three singles) against Texas and didn't get a good performance from starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.

"It's the same game, and we have to be a little more focused," Tejada said. "We don't want to have a bad habit because there are going to be a lot of days off. We have to take it as the same game and play hard."

The only bright spot for the Astros came in the fifth inning, when catcher Ivan Rodriguez hit a solo homer on the night he tied Carlton Fisk for having caught the most games in Major League history with 2,226. He can break the record Wednesday.

Wandy Rodriguez (5-6), meanwhile, struggled. The left-hander gave up six hits, including three home runs, six runs and walked five batters in four innings to suffer his first career loss against the Rangers. He has lost four consecutive decisions after starting the season 5-2.

"He wasn't real sharp, and last time out, he wasn't real sharp either his first couple of innings but he managed to get things turned around," manager Cecil Cooper said. "Tonight, he didn't make enough quality pitches, and in this ballpark, against this team and when you make mistakes, they usually hurt you."

The Astros were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, squandering a great scoring chance in the first inning against Rangers starter Kevin Millwood (7-4). Michael Bourn doubled to lead off the game and Tejada walked, but Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee struck out, and Bourn was caught stealing third.

"We've got a chance to score with first and second and nobody out, and we don't even get it advanced past second," Cooper said. "Those off-days tend to get us in a bad situation most of the time. We don't pitch well and don't hit, and it looks like we're a little flat."

Ian Kinsler led off the bottom of the first inning for the Rangers with the first of his two home runs off Wandy Rodriguez. He homered again in the second to make it 3-0, and David Murphy blasted a 417-foot home run to right field in the third.

"I was behind in the count a lot, and that was my problem," Wandy Rodriguez said. "The umpire called some pitches that were close. I missed my location, too, and when I threw on the corners, the umpire didn't call it."

The Rangers took a 6-0 lead in the fourth on a two-run double to left field by Michael Young, and Ivan Rodriguez's homer leading off the fifth cut the lead to 6-1. He got a nice standing ovation from the crowd in the city where he played the majority of his career.

"Not a good situation for us, and we have to figure out a way to come out and pitch really well and score some runs and score early," Cooper said. "I thought if we got on the board early there, it would have been a different ballgame."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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