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Astros fall, but Pudge makes history

Astros fall, but Pudge makes history

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ARLINGTON -- Astros manager Cecil Cooper was furious with his team's performance Wednesday night and let his players know exactly how he felt during a brief postgame team meeting. By the time the media made its way to the manager's office a few minutes later, Cooper's anger was still evident.

On a night Houston catcher Ivan Rodriguez set the all-time record for most games played at catcher, the Rangers pushed a run across in the 10th inning to beat the Astros for the fifth time in as many games this year, 5-4, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

When asked if it was the most frustrating loss of the season, Cooper didn't hesitate.

"No question," he said.

Cooper's list of complaints included three defensive errors, a misplayed ball in the outfield and a botched opportunity on a sacrifice bunt late in the game. The Astros were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.

"Just no offensive execution when we needed it," Cooper said. "That's really unacceptable. We've been playing pretty good baseball, but that's unacceptable. We kicked the ball around and threw it around, and that's unacceptable. I don't care how well we've been playing. That game is not a game we should be playing like that. We're a much better team than that.

"I am totally not happy with that. Am I happy for Pudge? Yeah, tickled for Pudge. I was happy he was able to break the record, but unfortunately it didn't happen on a good night for us."

Rodriguez, who went 1-for-5 and committed two throwing errors, broke Carlton Fisk's all-time record for games caught with his 2,227th game behind the plate. The fans in Arlington, where Pudge played the first 12 seasons of his career, gave him a nice standing ovation when he came to bat in the second inning.

"Every loss is tough, but tonight is really about Pudge," said outfielder Hunter Pence, who went 4-for-5 with a game-tying homer in the eighth. "It's an amazing accomplishment and to reminisce over what he's done, we're really happy for him. That's the big story."

Ian Kinsler scored the winning run in the 10th on a bases-loaded single by David Murphy off Jeff Fulchino, who was Houston's fifth pitcher. Kinsler reached on an error by third baseman Jeff Keppinger to start the inning.

Kinsler scored the Rangers' first run in the first when he doubled on a ball left fielder Jason Michaels appeared to lose in the sun. Kinsler stole second and then came home on the first of two Rodriguez throwing errors. Texas took advantage of another Rodriguez error in the fifth to score a run on a sacrifice fly.

Astros starter Russ Ortiz, who entered the game having thrown 17 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, gave up seven hits and four runs (three earned) and struck out five batters in six innings. He allowed solo homers to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the third and Nelson Cruz in the fourth.

"I think everybody agrees that two of the runs probably shouldn't have come in, but that's baseball," Ortiz said. "These guys are grinding it out just like we're grinding it out. That's all part of it, and we have to get by it. The one in the first inning was just one run. The two solo home runs, I threw the pitch pretty much where I wanted to and they caught it good enough to get it out."

Pence and Rodriguez had consecutive singles to start the sixth, but the Astros couldn't get them home. Michaels led off the ninth with a single, but was thrown out at second when Michael Bourn's attempted sacrifice bunt fizzled. Bourn was then thrown out by Saltalamacchia trying to steal second.

"I feel like we had good pitching tonight against a team that could really hit the ball," Bourn said. "Russ kept us in the game. I wasn't able to execute the bunt and combined the problem by getting thrown out, but he made a perfect throw. He could have put the ball everywhere else and I would have been safe. It's not going to take much for us to bounce back. It was one of those nights."

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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