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Walks, error hurt Astros in 10-5 loss to Rangers

Saturday - 7/6/2013, 1:12am  ET

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve (27) adjust his helmet after stealing second base as Texas Rangers' Elvis Andrus watches in the first inning of a baseball game on Friday, July 5, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Houston Astros manager Bo Porter says he's not worried about his team's focus.

It looked as if he had a couple of reasons to be concerned Friday night.

Lucas Harrell issued consecutive walks before Nelson Cruz's grand slam and Brett Wallace dropped a popup before Adrian Beltre homered in the fourth, sending Houston to a 10-5 loss to the Texas Rangers.

The second-inning walks by Ian Kinsler and David Murphy were among six free passes allowed by Harrell (5-9), while Wallace's error came after the .164 hitter struck out in his first two at-bats.

"The effort and focus is definitely there," Porter said. "That goes without question with these guys. It's one of those things we've played good teams that have played well and we have not played our best baseball. We just need to clean it up, play solid baseball."

New Astros president Reid Ryan had a front-row view of just how far his last-place team has to go to become a contender. He was sitting next to his dad, Hall of Fame pitcher and Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan.

The younger Ryan couldn't have been pleased by what he saw in the fourth. With two outs, Wallace barely had to move before dropping a popup by Cruz near first base. Beltre's shot off the foul pole in left was his third homer in six at-bats and No. 17 on the season.

"Anytime you put extra guys on base or you allow guys to extend innings, especially a club like this that has several guys in their lineup that can change the game with one swing, you're asking for trouble," Porter said. "The walks definitely hurt, the error obviously hurt."

Cruz's grand slam made his case for a spot in the All-Star game a little stronger.

With the All-Star rosters set to be announced Saturday, and likely no Texas players among the starters for the first time since 2007, Cruz sent his 21st homer into the bullpen in left-center field to make it 6-0 in the second.

Cruz's fate is in the hands of Detroit manager Jim Leyland, with a combination of player and fan voting making the final choice. He is hitting .268 and leads the team in homers and RBIs (65).

"He certainly deserves it," said manager Ron Washington, who had Leyland's job the previous two years after the Rangers went to the World Series. "I do believe Jim will make the right decision and the players will make the right decision."

David Murphy also homered for the Rangers, who won the first American League game in Arlington between the in-state rivals and beat Houston for the 10th time in 11 games overall.

Nick Tepesch (4-6) had five strikeouts the first time through the Astros' lineup and had a career high of nine by the fourth inning. The rookie right-hander's previous best of eight strikeouts came in his last win -- nine starts ago against the Astros on May 12.

Tepesch, who had a 12-1 lead before the bullpen struggled in a 12-7 win in Houston in May, was up 10-0 when he once again had trouble getting outs the third time through the order.

Four straight Astros reached to start the sixth, capped by a two-run double from Chris Carter that knocked out Tepesch. Carlos Pena and J.D. Martinez singled before Ross Wolf got a flyout and turned a double play on a soft liner back to him from Matt Dominguez.

Tepesch was charged with four runs and seven hits in five innings to go along with his nine strikeouts. Opposing batters are hitting .158 the first time they see Tepesch in a game, but .465 the third or fourth time.

"All in all, he threw the ball well," Cruz said.

The Rangers had scored one run in the first inning over their previous 25 games when Murphy hit a drive into the Texas bullpen in right-center after Kinsler's leadoff walk. It was Murphy's 10th homer and sent the Rangers to their highest scoring game since they beat Detroit 11-8 on May 19.

"We know what we're capable of as an offense," said Murphy, who was moved up to No. 2 in the order despite hitting just .221 because of a recent slump by Andrus. "It's been up and down a little this year. We're trying to finish strong (before the All-Star break) and tonight was a great way to do that."

Harrell, who was the losing pitcher when Texas ace Yu Darvish came within an out of a perfect game in the second game of the season, pushed his season walk total to 53 in 103 2-3 innings. The Rangers had just five hits while scoring nine runs -- seven earned -- against him.

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