Rangers take opener in battle of Texas
Tejeda's strong pitching, five-run third spark intrastate win
HOUSTON -- Robinson Tejeda apparently was right from what he said earlier this week."I'm back," Tejeda said, after flirting with a no-hitter for five innings. "That's all I can say. I'm back." The Rangers need him back and some others as well. On a team that's been hit hard by injuries, they're going to need some of their young players and role players to come on quickly, and that's what happened for at least one night at Minute Maid Park. Tejeda pitched five-plus strong innings, and Nelson Cruz and Ramon Vazquez hit back-to-back home runs in a five-run third inning that carried the Rangers to a 7-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday. The victory snapped the Rangers' four-game losing streak. "I thought we've been playing good baseball for three days," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "On the fourth day we got what good baseball is supposed to get you -- a W." Cruz and Vazquez were both called upon to help replace the loss of third baseman Hank Blalock, who is out for 10-12 weeks with a shoulder problem. Cruz stepped into the No. 5 spot in the order and hit a big two-run home run, and Vazquez delivered three hits in his first start at third base for the Rangers. "It definitely feels good to go out there and help the ballclub," said Vazquez, who was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma on Thursday. "But I've been here before and had good games before. I just got good pitches to hit tonight, that's all." Cruz got a good pitch to hit. He followed Sammy Sosa's two-run double by taking a fastball from Astros starter Matt Albers over the right-field fence to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead in the third. "He's been having better at-bats the past week," Washington said. "That's what he's capable of doing, hitting the ball the opposite way. I'm happy for him. I hope his confidence continues to grow, because we're going to need that as the season goes on." Beginning with his walk-off home run against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sunday, Cruz has six hits in his last 21 at-bats.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.