HOUSTON (AP) — Nick Tepesch put the Texas Rangers in a tough spot again.
Tepesch was knocked out in the fifth inning, and the Rangers went on to a 4-2 loss to the Houston Astros on Thursday night.
Tepesch was working with a 2-0 lead when Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single in the fifth. Tepesch then walked Chris Carter before he was replaced by Ramon Mendez (0-1).
Dexter Fowler reached on an infield single to set up Jason Castro's second career grand slam, a drive to right for his 13th homer. Castro also snapped an 0-for-20 slump with a single in the second.
"I had a good sinker tonight," Tepesch said. "I felt like I was commanding my fastball for the most part. Just a matter of throwing a lot of pitches per inning."
Tepesch threw 89 pitches and was charged with two runs and five hits. He struck out one and walked three after he allowed six runs in 6 1-3 innings in his previous start Saturday.
"He had struggled from pitch one," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Every inning he was in trouble. That inning there we got to the middle of the order, and I just felt like we needed to shut that inning down, but Mendez just couldn't get it done."
Collin McHugh (7-9) pitched seven innings of two-run ball for the Astros. He improved to 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his last four starts.
"It was one of those nights where I felt like it could have gone either way the whole night any inning," McHugh said. "I felt like we started to find a groove a little bit the fifth, sixth, seventh."
Leonys Martin scored on a double play in the Texas first, and Mike Carp drove in Robinson Chirinos with a sacrifice fly in the third. Martin, Chirinos and Elvis Andrus each had two hits for Texas.
In a scary moment to end the fourth, Rangers right fielder Jim Adduci hit the back of his head on the dirt track and then the padding along the line after tracking down a foul ball and getting undercut by second baseman Rougned Odor. Adduci was removed as a precaution in the fifth for Daniel Robertson.
Adduci said his back hit first, and then he had a bit of whiplash. He said he was day to day.
"It happened so fast," Adduci said. "It was like boom, and I am on my back laying there. Everything was quick."
In his six August starts, McHugh gave up eight runs over 37 2-3 innings.
Josh Fields pitched the eighth and Tony Sipp worked the ninth for his second save.
Rangers: OF Shin-Soo Choo will have surgery on Friday to remove a bone spur from his left elbow. He is expected to be able to return to baseball activities for workouts by Nov. 1. ... OF Alex Rios missed his second straight game with a swollen right thumb, but Washington said he expects him to play on Friday.
Astros: OF Robbie Grossman was out of the lineup after turning his left ankle on Wednesday night. Porter said he is day to day.
The Rangers send RHP Scott Baker (2-3) to the mound Friday night for his second straight start in Houston. He is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in seven outings since the break. Houston will counter with LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-9).
BATTING TITLE CHASE
Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre entered Thursday batting .326 and in third place for the American League batting title behind Altuve (.332) and Detroit's Victor Martinez (.327). When asked if he thought he could win the title, Beltre said: "No chance," before raving about Altuve and Martinez. He also said it's hard to care about those things considering the tough season the team has had. "What is good about this year," he asked when asked about his good performance.
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