ARLINGTON, Texas — A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer, Nelson Cruz had a tiebreaking single in the fifth inning and the Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 5-4 on Sunday.
Five Texas relievers, including right-hander Joakim Soria in his first appearance in nearly two years, pitched a scoreless inning apiece after rookie starter Justin Grimm couldn't get an out in the fifth.
Cory Burns (1-0) got the win, and Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 29th save in 30 chances a day after making his sixth All-Star team and second in two seasons with Texas.
Pierzynski gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead in the first inning with his 8th homer, a shot into the Texas bullpen in right field after consecutive walks to Elvis Andrus and Cruz by Erik Bedard (3-5).
Houston rookie Marc Krauss answered with his first career homer in the second, a two-run shot off Grimm.
Texas reliever Neal Cotts got pinch-hitter Chris Carter on a called third strike with the tying run at third in the eighth.
Cruz's single scored Ian Kinsler for a 5-4 Texas lead after Houston had pulled even in a fifth inning that included three errors, two unearned runs and two unusual double plays.
Grimm allowed singles to Brandon Barnes and Matt Dominguez to start the fifth, and both moved up when Grimm's throw on a pickoff attempt at second went into center field.
The Rangers had Barnes picked off at third, but Jurickson Profar – filling in for Gold Glove third baseman Adrian Beltre – let Pierzynski's throw from behind the plate sail past his glove into left field. Profar got the error, and Barnes scored for a 4-all tie.
Grimm was replaced after a walk to No. 9 hitter Jake Elmore, and Cory Burns retired Jose Altuve on a pop out. Burns escaped the inning when Brett Wallace struck out and Elmore was tagged out by shortstop Elvis Andrus on a steal attempt after sliding past the bag at second.
Altuve botched a routine grounder from Kinsler to start the Texas fifth. After Andrus walked, Kinsler scored for a 5-4 Texas lead on a single from Cruz, who was later thrown out trying to go to second on a deep flyout to center field by Pierzynski.
Soria – making his first appearance since Sept. 11, 2011, with Kansas City after right elbow reconstruction surgery – pitched a perfect sixth inning. The two-time All-Star got Carlos Corporan and Carlos Pena on grounders and Krauss on a flyout to left.
J.D. Martinez had three singles for Houston but never made it to second base. He was picked off by Grimm to end the fourth after driving in Corporan to pull Houston to 4-3.
NOTES: The Rangers put DH Lance Berkman (left hip inflammation) and RHP Nick Tepesch (right elbow inflammation) on the disabled list. Soria was reinstated from the 60-day DL, and RHP Cory Burns was called up from Triple-A Round Rock. ... The Astros are moving RHP Lucas Harrell to the bullpen. He is 5-9 with a 5.04 ERA after giving up nine runs (seven earned) in 3 2-3 innings in a 10-5 loss to the Rangers on Friday. A replacement hasn't been announced. ... The Texas-Arizona game that was postponed by rain on May 29 will be made up Aug. 1. It was a scheduled off day for both teams.