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Astros keep it late to down Rangers, avoid season sweep

THE Houston Astros scored two late runs to defeat Texas 5-3 on Thursday and avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Rangers.

Hunter Pence hit a tiebreaking homer off Texas reliever Jason Jennings in the eighth and Michael Bourn added an RBI triple in the same inning to put Houston two runs clear in the interleague game.

The home run was a special one for Pence, who grew up in Arlington, Texas.

"Every time I play here, it's a little special because I have the memory of coming here as a boy and growing up watching from the stands," Pence told reporters. "It's something special every time I play on this ball field."

The American League West-leading Rangers (37-28) advanced runners to scoring position in the eighth and ninth, but could not bring them home.

Houston (30-34), which lost its first five games against Texas and languishes at the bottom of the National League Central, started to claw its way back from an early 0-3 deficit through RBIs from Humberto Quintero and Carlos Lee in the fifth and sixth.

A passed ball in the sixth allowed Miguel Tejada to tie the game at 3-3. Houston pitcher Brandon Backe allowed three runs over four innings in his first start of the season before four relievers combined to finish the game.

Backe had made four relief appearances after returning from a rib injury.

"My mind was a little bit different," said Backe of his return to starting duties.

"I obviously was able to think about it and go over the hitters in my head before I actually got on the field."

Texas took an lead early through solo home runs from Michael Young and Chris Davis. Rangers starter Vicente Padilla, who entered the game having won four of his last five starts, allowed three runs over six innings and took a 'no-decision'.

Winning homer

In Philadelphia, Rod Barajas hit the winning homer leading off the ninth inning as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Phillies 8-7, completing a three-game sweep of the World Series champions.

The injury-riddled Blue Jays were 0-6 in interleague play this season when they arrived in Philadelphia.

The Phillies dropped to 13-19 at home, but remain three games clear atop the National League East division thanks to a major league-best 23-9 record on the road.

In Boston, Dan Uggla and Ronny Paulino homered in the second inning and that proved enough for Florida to edge Boston 2-1 in a rain-shortened six-inning game.

In Los Angeles, Orlando Hudson homered and pinch-hitter Mark Loretta drove in the go-ahead run as Los Angeles edged Oakland 3-2.

Elsewhere, it was: Tigers 6, Cardinals 3; Rockies 4, Rays 3; Twins 5, Pirates 1; Braves 7, Reds 0; Cubs 6, White Sox 5; Orioles 5, Mets 4; Padres 4, Mariners 3, 10 innings; Diamondbacks 12, Royals 5; and Nationals 3, Yankees 0.


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