HOUSTON (AP) - Texas starter Matt Harrison simply couldn't get out of the fifth inning quick enough.
Jason Michaels homered and drove in three runs and Wandy Rodriguez and three relievers combined on a four-hitter as the Houston Astros snapped an eight-game home losing streak with a 7-0 win over the Rangers on Thursday night.
Harrison (6-7) yielded seven hits and five runs in six innings, with four runs coming with two outs in the fifth.
Harrison plunked Michael Bourn on the right forearm with one out in the fifth inning before he advanced to second on a groundout by Angel Sanchez. Bourn scored to make it 2-0 before Harrison intentionally walked Lee.
A ground-rule RBI double by Michaels stretched the lead to 3-0. The ball bounced just fair in the right field corner before sailing into the stands and pinging off the tray of a snow cone vendor and back onto the field.
``One rough inning,' Harrison said. ``The at-bat with Pence, I made a pretty good pitch, but he hit it deep in the hole, and he was too quick to throw him out. I had a chance to get out of it after that double down the line.'
Chris Johnson followed with a two-run single to shallow center to make it 5-0. Harrison finally got out of the inning when Clint Barmes grounded into a forceout. Harrison pointed to Johnson's at-bat in particular in the inning.
``I had Johnson 1-2, but I wanted to go down and away, and I went up and away,' Harrison said. ``It gave him more chance to put the ball in play, and he hit it up the middle. That was the ball game right there. I could have kept it intact and at least give us a chance, but I let the ball game get away.'
Carlos Lee homered for the second straight day in the fourth inning and Johnson drove in two runs in Houston's four-run fifth as the Astros won at Minute Maid Park for the first time since June 13.
Michaels pushed the lead to 7-0 with his two-run shot to left in the seventh.
Rodriguez (6-4) allowed four hits and struck out four in seven innings.
The only real trouble for Rodriguez came in the third inning.
He walked Kinsler with two outs before a single by Elvis Andrus to left. Josh Hamilton walked, but Rodriguez escaped the bases-loaded jam when Pence caught a long fly ball hit by Adrian Beltre.
Texas manager Ron Washington lamented his team's missed opportunities against Rodriguez early.
``Early in the game, we had him on the ropes, and we couldn't get the hit,' Washington said. ``He moved his fastball around ... he had a really good breaking ball. He had a couple good changeups, too. What he did to us tonight, he's capable of doing. We certainly had some chances, but we didn't cash them in.'
Andrus was impressed by Rodriguez.
``That guy he threw pretty good,' Andrus said. ``He was consistently locating the curveball today. That was his out pitch today. It wasn't a lucky game for us. They got key hits in good counts.'
Andrus had two hits for the Rangers in his return after missing the last four games with a sprained left wrist.
``Before I got hurt, I was swinging the ball pretty good, so today it was really good for me that my timing was still there,' Andrus said.
Hunter Pence singled off Dave Bush with no outs in the seventh inning before the homer by Michaels with one out.
He retired six straight after that before Andrus walked to start the sixth inning. He still faced the minimum in that inning thanks to Houston turning a double play.
David Murphy singled with one out in the seventh but Houston turned another double play to end that inning.
Hamilton robbed the Astros of hits with two nifty catches in the seventh inning. He made a leaping catch near the wall in left on a ball hit by Lee before diving to snag a ball hit by Johnson later in the inning. He turned and smiled while still on the ground before getting up and removing grass that got stuck in his belt during the second catch.
``I just moved over like five feet,' Hamilton said of his position on the second catch. ``That's why I was smiling. I laid out and felt like I got extended a little. I landed on the arm, and it felt good.'
Houston's victory broke a string of eight straight wins at Minute Maid Park for the Rangers.
NOTES: Houston 2B Jeff Keppinger was scratched about 90 minutes before Thursday's game with nausea. He was replaced in the lineup by Sanchez. ... Astros reliever Brandon Lyon had surgery on Thursday to repair the detachment of his right biceps tendon and repair his labrum. He is expected to miss the rest of the season. ... Texas C/1B Mike Napoli, on the DL with a strained left oblique muscle, began a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday. He is expected to play four games there. ... J.R. Towles started at catcher for the first time since leaving Friday's game with a gash on his chin that required 11 stitches.
The Associated Press News Service
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