ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Ivan Rodriguez rounded the bases to a standing ovation from the Texas Rangers fans, who got to salute one of their former stars and still celebrate a victory.
Rodriguez homered leading off the fifth for the only Houston run in a 6-1 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night, when the 13-time All-Star catcher matched the major league record for games caught while playing against his original team.
"I'm very pleased. It's an unbelievable record to tie Carlton Fisk. I respect him a lot," said Rodriguez, who got warm receptions each time he was introduced. "It was nice to hear that."
Rodriguez, who began his career at age 19 in 1991 and played 12 seasons in Texas, caught his 2,226th career game to tie Fisk, the Hall of Famer catcher who played for Boston (1969-80) and the Chicago White Sox (1981-93). The two share the record, at least for a day, and also a nickname — "Pudge."
Ian Kinsler snapped out of his slump by going 3 for 4 with two homers and Kevin Millwood (7-4) allowed one run over seven innings to win his third straight start for AL West-leading Texas.
Millwood is 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA in eight starts this season at hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark. His last two victories snapped Texas losing streaks.
"He's definitely spoiling us. That's classic Millwood right there," Michael Young said. "I think Milly senses when we need to get some momentum back on our side."
Kinsler, 4 for 33 with no RBIs the previous eight games, put the Rangers ahead to stay with his fourth leadoff homer this season. He added another solo shot in the second off struggling left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (5-6).
Manager Ron Washington never considered taking Kinsler out of the leadoff spot.
"I have confidence in the fact that he's been there before and he'll get out of it," Washington said. "I just hope tonight is the night that got him back going."
Kinsler, an All-Star last year, is leading AL second baseman in the latest voting.
David Murphy also homered for the Rangers, who have won all four games this season against Houston. Texas clinched the season series to keep the Silver Boot Trophy for the third straight year.
The Rangers led 6-0 when Ivan Rodriguez barely cleared the right-field wall with his homer. The fans stood and started screaming as soon as it did.
"They love Pudge," Young said. "Every year since he's left, he's been here. It never gets old. They love him here."
Pudge, a 14-time All-Star who has won 13 Gold Gloves, left Texas in 2002 and won a World Series with Florida the following season. He then spent five years in Detroit and half a season with the Yankees before signing a $1.5 million, one-year deal with the Astros during spring training.
Astros manager Cecil Cooper said Rodriguez will catch Wednesday, which would break the tie with Fisk. Rodriguez was tied with Bob Boone at 2,225 games before Tuesday.
Millwood has allowed only three earned runs over 27 2-3 innings his past four starts.
Houston got a leadoff double from Michael Bourn to start the game before Miguel Tejada walked. Arlington native Hunter Pence then struck out, which became a double play when Bourn was thrown out stealing third.
Except for Rodriguez's homer, only one other runner got past first base after that against Millwood, who struck out six while allowing four hits and three walks.
Millwood ended the third when he knocked down Tejada's comebacker with his bare hand, then scrambled to pick up the ball and throw to first. The pitcher deflected Rodriguez's ball in the seventh, slowing it down and preventing a double play.
Wandy Rodriguez lost his fourth consecutive decision over five starts, after a four-game winning streak. His ERA, which was the best among NL left-handers, jumped from 2.82 to 3.33 after giving up six runs over four innings when he walked five.
"Wandy wasn't real sharp," Cooper said. "Neither was Millwood in the first few innings, but he managed to get it turned around."
Kinsler walked in the fourth and scored on Young's two-run double. Young had a single and scored on Marlon Byrd's hit in the first.
NOTES: Kinsler's nine career leadoff homers are the most in Rangers history. It was his fifth multihomer game, third this season. ... Young finished 2 for 4 with a walk, after going 3 for 24 the past six games. ... 2B Kazuo Matsui, activated from the DL after missing 18 games with a strained left hamstring, went 0 for 3.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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