ARLINGTON, Texas — Rookie Max Stassi took a baseball to the face and his Houston Astros teammates probably felt the same way Wednesday night against the Texas Rangers.
After rallying to tie the game 4-4 in the top of the eighth inning, Elvis Andrus ended it in the bottom of the ninth to send Houston to its third straight loss, 5-4 against the AL West-leading Rangers.
Houston fell to 2-14 against the Rangers this season with three more to play against its in-state rival in late September.
"I've said this the entire time – the resilience of that group in there, I am extremely proud of them," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "They fight all the way to the end. We come up short sometimes but I would never question the resilience they have, like they showed today."
During a wild eighth inning, Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers gave up three hits, one walk, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches to surrender a Texas lead.
Scheppers allowed a hit to open the eighth and quickly erased it by getting L.J. Hoes to ground into a double play. Then the bottom fell out for the Texas right-hander.
Jose Altuve singled, advanced to third on the two wild pitches and scored on Chris Carter's bloop single to pull the Astros to 4-3. Scheppers then hit Matt Dominguez on the left shoulder to load the bases before throwing a pitch that glanced off Stassi's shoulder and into his face, knocking his helmet to the ground.
Jason Castro scored to tie the game 4-4 and give Stassi – who was clearly bleeding as he was led off the field – the first RBI of his career. He was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.
"We will get a full report once they run all the tests," Astros Manager Bo Porter said of Stassi after the game. "We don't have an update right now but it was definitely a scary situation.
"That is a very painful way to get your first RBI."
It took Chia-Jen Lo (0-1) only four pitches to get three Texas outs in the bottom of the eighth, but the right-hander took the loss for Houston after giving up Andrus' hit that scored pinch runner Adam Rosales. As Andrus came up to bat with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth, the Astros moved left fielder Chris Carter to first base to add a fifth infielder.
"We've fought every game. It's a tribute to these guys in this clubhouse," left fielder Robbie Grossman said. "We're never out of a game, no matter what the score is, we're just going to play our type of baseball and play it hard. It's tough to lose like that."
Texas closer Joe Nathan (4-2) shut down the Astros in the ninth to get the win.
Craig Gentry homered and scored three times for Texas, one on a perfect squeeze bunt by Andrus in the seventh that gave Texas a 4-2 lead.
Castro homered and scored three runs for the Astros.
Texas starter Derek Holland pitched six-plus innings, leaving in the seventh after giving up a single to Castro and consecutive walks to load the bases with no outs. Joakim Soria came on in relief and got Stassi to ground into a double play, scoring Castro to trim the Astros' deficit to 3-2.
Holland gave up four hits and two earned runs while striking out five and walking three.
Astros starter Erik Bedard pitched 4 1-3 innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits with four walks.
NOTES: Rangers rookie RHP Nick Tepesch, on the DL since July 6 with right elbow inflammation, said he felt good after a bullpen session. He expects to throw live BP on the team's road trip that starts Friday. ... LHP Travis Blackley will apparently stay in the Texas rotation. "As of right now, he's going to get his next start," manager Ron Washington said. Blackley threw 66 pitches over four innings Tuesday night in place of injured Alexi Ogando. The next turn for that spot is Monday night at Seattle. ... In the second, Bedard took an Adrian Beltre come-backer off the inside of his right ankle, but he stayed in the game after being evaluated by team trainers. In the seventh, Holland took a Jason Castro line drive off his left forearm, but he also remained on the hill after being examined. ... Alex Rios stole second in the sixth inning, giving him 30 stolen bases – his third season reaching that plateau.