ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Houston Astros utility player Jake Elmore arrived at Rangers Ballpark just hoping to play Monday night.
Little did the rookie know sitting on the bench early in the game that he would both catch and pitch in the major leagues for the first time.
But that's what can happen in lopsided games like the Astros' 16-5 loss to the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, who had an 11-run third that was the highest-scoring inning in the majors this season.
Elmore was the only one of the four Houston pitchers who had a scoreless outing, a 1-2-3 eighth on 11 pitches. He returned to the dugout to a gauntlet of high-fives from his teammates.
``It was fun,' Elmore said. ``When any player plays out of position you're glad to see him do well.'
The outcome was not in doubt after the big inning by Texas made it 13-1.
An inning later, Elmore was behind the plate for Carlos Corporan, who had been hit by a foul ball. Jason Castro, the other catcher, was in the game already as the designated hitter.
``They told me early in the game that I was going to pitch because the game was out of hand. I was expecting that,' Elmore said. ``But out of nowhere Corporan got hurt. I had told them I could catch like two weeks ago.'
Elmore said he had never done both in the same game at any level. Preliminary research by the Astros' media relations staff found just 14 instances of a player pitching and catching in a major league game.
``It was cool. It's impressive for a guy like him to do that. It also saves the pen,' Astros starter Lucas Harrell said. ``Having a guy like that on your team is really special.'
Harrell (6-14) pitched the only other perfect inning against Texas in the second. But around that inning he gave up two first-inning runs and seven more while retiring only one Ranger in the third.
``It was more frustrating than anything,' Harrell said. ``I thought my sinker was working really well, but they got seven or eight groundball hits.'
Harrell, who has the most losses in the majors, was making his first start this month and only his second since losing 10-5 at Texas on July 5, when he also gave up nine runs. He got another start Monday because scheduled starter Jordan Lyles pitched 2 1-3 innings in relief Sunday.
Houston manager Bo Porter wasn't ready to say if Harrell would make another start.
Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus each scored three runs for Texas. All nine Rangers scored in the third, when they sent 15 batters to the plate and had seven hits - six singles and a double - along with three walks, two Houston errors and a sacrifice bunt. Only five of the 11 runs were earned.
The last team in the majors with as many runs in an inning was St. Louis, with a 12-run seventh in a 12-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on July 21, 2012. Texas' last 11-run inning was in the fifth of a 15-3 win at home against Tampa Bay on Sept. 26, 2009.
The Rangers have won 12 of their last 13 games against Houston (41-83), the first-year American League team now 30 1/2 games back in the division.
Matt Garza (3-1) struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings. But the right-hander allowed five runs, becoming the first Texas starter in 22 games to allow more than four.
Houston was within 2-1 when Jason Castro and Chris Carter had consecutive doubles to start the second. The Astros then fell behind 15-1 before scoring four times in the seventh.
Elmore had pitched four times in the minor leagues. He also caught in one game for Double-A Mobile. Elmore caught in high school, but told college recruiters he wanted to be an infielder, the position he played in junior college, then at Arizona State and the minors.
Elmore said he threw mostly two-seam fastballs, clocked no higher than 82 mph, one slow curve and two changeups, both to retire Jurickson Profar.
The third out was Rangers left fielder David Murphy, who himself pitched a scoreless inning this season.
``He had a little sink on his fastball,' Murphy said. ``He stayed below hitting speed and had fun.'
Notes: Texas went ahead 2-0 in the first when Andurs scored on a double steal. ... The Rangers have stolen home 29 times in team history. One of the previous Texas players with a steal of home was Astros manager Bo Porter, who did it June 11, 2001. ... LHP Travis Blackley, acquired by Texas from Houston last week, will be brought up from Triple-A Round Rock to start Tuesday's game against his former team. . Porter said Corporan was ``nauseated, dizzy and slow to respond' in the dugout after that long third inning.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved