HOUSTON (AP) - Bud Norris gave up three early runs Saturday night and the Houston Astros couldn't muster enough offense to keep him in the game.
Norris (4-6) gave up three runs in the first three innings and finished with six hits and three walks in five innings, but Wade Davis allowed just one run in seven innings as the Tampa Bay Rays beat Houston 7-2.
Norris had been 1-1 in his last three starts with an 0.86 ERA after giving up just two runs on eight hits in 21 innings, but he said he didn't feel his best or have his best stuff against Tampa.
``Just to keep it close there is all I can really do,' he said. ``It's really frustrating to give up one in each of the first three innings, but I was able to settle down in the fourth and fifth. I wanted to go back out, but we had to make a change there. It was a little rough, but to keep them at bay was all I could really do.'
Ben Zobrist walked with one out in the first before scoring on a double by Longoria to make it 1-0.
Johnny Damon had an RBI single in the second to push the lead to 2-0. Houston had a chance for a play at the plate, but Reid Brignac got under catcher Carlos Corporan in a collision and was safe.
B.J. Upton hit an RBI single in the third to make it 3-0.
``He was trying to find his stuff,' Houston manager Brad Mills said of Norris. ``He kept working to find his stuff. His command kind of got him in trouble with those walks, but he kept battling.'
In a scary moment in the third, Norris covered first on a potential double play, but Matt Downs' throw to first was a little behind Norris. Mills said the right-hander ``tweaked' his left shoulder and it bothered him a little, but that he should be OK.
``It felt like I had a dead arm ... it just needed time to calm down and I felt all right after that,' Norris said.
The Astros, who hadn't scored a run in each of Norris' last two starts, had opportunities to get runs on the board, but went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Michael Bourn hit a leadoff double for the Astros but he and Keppinger were out on a fielder's choice double play. Keppinger reached before Bourn was caught in a rundown, but left first base and he was also caught in one.
``I should have kept going and make him run either way,' Bourn said of the play. ``He was able to tag me out without making a throw, and that's what started the double play.'
Houston cut the lead to 3-1 on an RBI double by Carlos Lee in the third, but the Rays tacked on a leadoff home run by Upton in the sixth. The Astros had the bases loaded with two outs in the sixth, but Brett Wallace grounded out to first to end the inning.
Hunter Pence cut the lead to 4-2 with an RBI double in the eighth, and the Astros put two men on with one out before Downs grounded into an inning ending double play. The Rays tacked on three in the ninth.
``We had an opportunity to really do something,' Mills said. ``A few times we hit the ball right on the button, and we didn't get anything for it. We lament that, but at the same time, we want to keep having those good at bats.'
Davis (7-5) yielded five hits with three strikeouts in seven innings before Kyle Farnsworth threw 1 2-3 innings giving up two hits for his 16th save. Davis' performance came a night after James Shields threw his third straight complete game.
``Shields was better than Davis was, but he has some pretty good stuff,' Bourn said. ``I think we got to him better than Shields. Shields threw a complete game without any threat of anything. We had our chances, but we didn't capitalize. If you don't capitalize, you don't have a chance of winning the game.'
NOTES: Mills said C J.R. Towles, who needed 11 stitches to close a gash that he got after a pitch bounced off the dirt and hit him under won't be able to catch for a few days, but he was able to pinch hit on Saturday. ... Downs, who normally plays second or third base, made his second career start at shortstop on Saturday and committed an error in the eighth inning.
The Associated Press News Service
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