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HOU@TEX: Choice ties game in 9th with solo shot

ARLINGTON -- After winning 12 meetings in a row and 18 of 19 against the Astros, plus three consecutive walk-off victories at home this season, the Rangers could be forgiven for expecting to salvage yet another close victory late in Saturday night's game.
 
But the Rangers were not ready to forgive themselves for the mistakes that earned them a 6-5 loss in 10 innings at Globe Life Park.
 
The first Ranger to fall on his sword was starting pitcher Tanner Scheppers, who was haunted by a five-run fourth inning in an otherwise decent start. Scheppers sailed through three scoreless innings before he walked Jason Castro with one out in the fourth, then allowed three singles and a three-run home run to Robbie Grossman.
 
Scheppers recovered and retired 10 of the next 11 batters -- but he was in no mood to discuss the positives from Saturday.
 
"I still go back to the fourth inning," Scheppers said. "I've got to do a better job there."
 
Rangers right fielder Alex Rios was also second-guessing himself after the loss. In the eighth inning, with the Rangers down 5-3, Rios doubled in leadoff batter Elvis Andrus and then got himself thrown out trying to steal third with Prince Fielder at the plate. Rios would have been the tying run.
 
"I just was a little bit too aggressive," Rios said. "You have to see where the game is at. In that situation it was 4-5, no outs and the middle of the lineup coming up so it's something that I should have stayed on second and let them do their job."
 
Manager Ron Washington said there's "no doubt" that Rios, who is hitting .302 this season, has been one of the team's steadiest, best players early in the season. But Washington also acknowledged Rios should have stayed put.
 
"The steal, that just was a poor decision on his part," Washington said. "[He] just did a great thing hitting a double to put us back in the ballgame and we've got Prince up there, a left-handed hitter. Just a poor decision."
 
Rios was involved in a key play of the game, when Castro tripled down the right-field line off closer Joakim Soria in the 10th. Castro scored the game-winning run on Jose Altuve's sacrifice fly. Castro's triple rattled off the angled wall in the corner, past Rios on a path parallel to the wall toward center field.
 
"It's a random, bizarre play," Rios said. "If it's in the ground you can predict it and position yourself to make the play, but when the ball is hit that hard, it's almost unpredictable where the ball is going to go."
 
Texas had a chance to tie the game in the 10th when Andrus reached on an Altuve error and stole second. The Astros walked Fielder to face Kevin Kouzmanoff, who struck out. Andrus took third on a wild pitch during that at-bat, but was stranded there when Michael Choice grounded out to first to end the game.
 
Choice was the only reason the Rangers made it to extra innings at all, though. The Rangers trailed 5-4 going into the bottom of the ninth when their short-lived comeback started with Choice's first career home run. The rookie outfielder was hitless in his previous 11 at-bats, dating back to Opening Day. But Choice, pinch-hitting to lead off the inning, launched the second pitch he saw 412 feet into the Rangers' bullpen for his first career homer.
 
Despite the loss, it was a milestone for Choice, who attended nearby Mansfield Timberview High School and UT Arlington.
 
"I've grown up here, watching so many games here," he said. "It's special to be able to hit my first one here in front of the home crowd."
 
Scheppers, who was the Rangers' unorthodox choice to start Opening Day, now has a 7.88 ERA in 16 innings this season. He has allowed 21 hits and 14 earned runs while walking five and striking out 11.
 
Scheppers posted career highs in innings pitched (seven) and strikeouts (six) Saturday. He also had four 1-2-3 innings.
 
"It's a step forward," Washington said. "He had one bad inning."
 
On the other side, the Rangers couldn't do much against Houston starter Jarred Cosart, a 23-year-old righty making his second career start against Texas. In seven innings, Cosart struck out eight. He allowed three earned runs on six hits.
 
He struck out Rangers leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo four times -- three on called strikes -- and faced the minimum number of batters in the fifth, sixth and seventh frames. Cosart struck out four of the final seven hitters he faced.
 
Choo struck out five times in the game, including in the ninth with two outs and a man on second.
 
Anthony Bass worked the bottom of the 10th to earn the save for the Astros; he managed to work out of a first-and-third jam that had Andrus 90 feet away from tying the game with two outs.
 
"It's a big win just from the fact they came back and tied it up," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "For us to come back and respond the way we responded to take the lead and go out and get those last three outs, I thought was huge."
 
Andrus reached base four times with two hits and two walks, and extended his hitting streak to start the season to 11 games. It's the longest such streak for a Ranger since Al Oliver's 13-game span to open the 1979 season.

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