Posted July 06, 2013 on AP on Fox
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Nelson Cruz's case for a spot in the All-Star game just got a little stronger. Cruz hit a grand slam, Nick Tepesch took a shutout into the sixth inning and the Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 10-5 on Friday night. 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 and Adrian Beltre 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. 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. Lucas Harrell (5-9) walked four in the first two innings and three of them scored. Cruz's homer came after consecutive walks to Ian Kinsler and Murphy. Elvis Andrus also was aboard on a one-out single. 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 inning. With two outs, Brett Wallace barely had to move before dropping a popup by Cruz near first base. Beltre followed with a shot off the foul pole in left for his third homer in six at-bats and No. 17 on the season. ''The effort and focus is definitely there,'' Astros manager Bo 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.'' 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, walked six to bring his season total to 53 in 103 2-3 innings. The Rangers had just five hits while scoring nine runs - seven earned - against him. ''You walk six guys, you're going to give up a lot of runs,'' said Harrell, who gave up just one run in six innings in the loss to Darvish. ''I couldn't throw a breaking ball for a strike.'' NOTES: Cruz's grand slam was his sixth at Rangers Ballpark, a record, and second this year. He also did it on April 21 against Seattle. ... Astros C Jason Castro had two hits and an RBI. ... Manny Ramirez, the 41-year-old slugger who signed a minor league deal with Texas this week, will serve as the designated hitter when he plays his first game for Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday. ... Rangers RHP Kyle McClellan accepted an outright assignment to Double-A Frisco and is expected to report Sunday. ... RHP Alexi Ogando (right shoulder inflammation) is set for his first rehab start Saturday at Round Rock. He's on the DL for the second time this season.
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