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New All-Star Castro leads Astros past Rangers

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The Canadian Press
7/6/2013 11:46:10 PM
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jason Castro already had a reason to celebrate after finding out he was headed to his first All-Star game.

The Houston Astros catcher added to the fun with the big hit in a win over Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers.

Castro hit a tiebreaking three-run homer a few hours after becoming the first American League All-Star for the Astros, and Houston went on to beat the Rangers 9-5 on Saturday night.

The catcher's drive just to the right of the lawn in centre field came off Robbie Ross in the seventh inning but made a loser of Darvish (8-4), who had a rough night after earning his second All-Star nod in two years in the majors.

"I grew up watching the All-Star game," Castro said. "One of the goals, along with winning the World Series, is playing in the All-Star game. It's still kind of surreal. It might not sink in until I get to New York."

The Astros built a 4-0 lead on a two-run homer by Brandon Barnes in the fourth and a two-run single from fellow rookie Marc Krauss an inning later.

"Looking at today's performance, I didn't perform like an All-Star," Darvish said. "It's unbelievable that I was being selected."

Geovany Soto pulled the Rangers even in the sixth, following Mitch Moreland's sacrifice fly, with a three-run homer off Wesley Wright.

Travis Blackley (1-0) got the win with 1 1-3 innings of scoreless relief.

Darvish came out after walking Jose Altuve to start the seventh, and Brett Wallace was hit by a pitch from Ross. Castro, who had two hits and scored twice, followed with his 12th homer.

Wallace reached base all five times, adding two doubles and two walks.

"There was a feeling on the bench that we had put together some pretty good at-bats and that we could break through," said Castro, who also twice threw out Ian Kinsler trying to steal. "Darvish is a great pitcher. He's one of the best in baseball for a reason. We were trying to simplify and narrow down what we do at the plate."

Darvish, the major league strikeout leader, had six in six innings, but gave up six hits and a season-high five earned runs.

The Japanese right-hander, who came within an out of a perfect game in the second game of the season against the Astros, tied his season high with four walks. He has just one win in his past nine outings.

"Those guys are professionals and they could catch some pitches. Tonight they caught some," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They swung the bats well."

Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel took a shutout into the sixth but didn't get another out. He was replaced by right-hander Paul Clemens after singles by Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz, who was named an All-Star reserve. Cruz had three hits, including his 22nd homer.

Clemens got Adrian Beltre on a popout but walked Lance Berkman to load the bases. After Moreland ended the shutout, Soto hit his tying shot into the Houston bullpen in left-centre field.

Krauss was 1-for-15 in his career before getting three straight singles. The first two -- including his first run-scoring hit on a bases-loaded single -- were off Darvish.

"I thought Krauss had tremendous at-bats," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He really grinded it."

Jake Elmore had his first career homer for Houston, a two-run shot in the eighth.

Ross has given up three homers in his past five appearances after yielding three in 58 games last year.

"Just a little rut in the road I guess," Ross said. "Hopefully I can overcome it and work my way back."

Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar made his first pro start in left field as Washington tries to figure out ways to get him in the lineup. Profar had a diving catch, while fighting the sun, to save a run and end the second inning.

NOTES: Rangers RHP Joakim Soria could be activated Sunday. He is coming back from elbow reconstruction surgery and hasn't pitched in the majors since Sept. 11, 2011, with Kansas City. ... Rangers RHP Alexi Ogando gave up four hits and three runs in two innings in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday night. He will make another start for Round Rock on Thursday. ... RHP Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick by the Astros, allowed three hits and two runs (one earned) in his professional debut for Class A Tri-City on Friday. ... The Rangers had a 30-minute pregame ceremony to honour first-responders and residents of West, Texas, where 15 people died in an explosion at a fertilizer plant in April.

Jason Castro (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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