ARLINGTON, Texas — Lance Lynn had more strikes thrown than words used postgame to describe his major league-best 12th victory, one that got the Texas Rangers off to the kind of start their manager had hoped for coming out of the All-Star break.
The short answers have become as common for the big right-hander as his impressive outings on the mound.
Lynn matched his season high with 11 strikeouts in seven strong innings and the Rangers beat the AL West-leading Houston Astros 5-0 in the only game Thursday night when Major League Baseball resumed its schedule.
"It was a good game. We scored runs, played good defence. They didn't score any runs, we won," Lynn said in one of his longer responses to five questions in his postgame talk with reporters that lasted about 75 seconds.
Lynn (12-4) won his fifth consecutive start, and is 8-1 over his last 11 starts. He scattered six hits (five singles and a double) and walked two while throwing 75 of 110 pitches for strikes.
"He's going to fill the zone up, keep everybody on their toes and try to get them to put the ball in play by throwing strikes," catcher Jeff Mathis said. "That's what we've come to expect of him and he's been doing it lately."
Houston (57-34) still has a seven-game division lead over Oakland, with the Rangers (49-42) eight games back in third place.
Astros lefty Framber Valdez (3-5) didn't make it out of the first inning, when Texas jumped ahead with four runs.
"We've seen this out of him," manager AJ Hinch said. "The good version is really good. And the version that struggles, it's tough for him to manage innings and get out of innings."
Lynn, who signed a $30 million, three-year free agent deal over the winter after pitching for Minnesota and the New York Yankees last year, is 8-0 in 10 home starts for the Rangers.
"He seems to be throwing harder this year," Astros right fielder Josh Reddick said. "He's already got such a heavy fastball that gets on you pretty quick. And once you add a little more velo to that, it's going to be a little bit harder task."
Lynn has thrown at least 100 pitches in 10 consecutive starts, the second-longest streak in the majors this season — Washington's Max Scherzer had 12 games in a row with at least 100 pitches until last month.
"That's something that he prides himself," manager Chris Woodward said. "I don't consider him like most pitchers. He's got a lot of old school ... if he were pitching back in the 70s or 80s, he'd probably go 170 pitches. That's just his mentality."
Jose Leclerc and Chris Martin each pitched an inning to wrap up the fourth shutout for the Rangers this season. It was the sixth time Houston was held scoreless.
Texas was up 1-0 before sluggers Nomar Mazara and All-Star outfielder Joey Gallo had strange hits. Mazara had an infield single when the ball spun off his shattered bat at 44 mph and barely got past the mound, then Gallo drove in a run with a double that ricocheted hard off second baseman Jose Altuve and never got out of the infield.
Rougned Odor, still hitting .198, made it 4-0 when he drove in two runs with the first of his two doubles. Odor doubled again in the third, and then scored on a single by Jeff Mathis.
TKO TO CHIN
Astros shortstop Alex Bregman left with a lacerated chin after a groundball took a nasty hop and hit the All-Star just below the mouth in the third inning. Bregman was shifted toward the middle of the infield when he went to field a grounder hit by Shin-Soo Choo.
"It sounds like he got four stiches in his chin. He was bleeding when I got out there," Hinch said. "I'm sure it hurt."
Astros: RHPs Brad Peacock and Joe Smith threw in rehab games for Double-A Corpus Christi at nearby Frisco before joining the Astros for their first series after the All-Star break. Both could be activated soon.
Rangers: Hunter Pence, out since June 17 (right groin strain), started a rehab assignment by going 0 for 3 with a walk as the DH for Double-A Frisco. Manager Chris Woodward said Pence, who didn't get to play in the All-Star Game after being voted in as the AL starting DH, would probably have another game at Frisco.
Astros All-Star right-hander Gerrit Cole (9-5), who has won his last five decisions and leads the AL with 170 strikeouts, is 1-2 with a 6.61 ERA in three starts this year against Texas. He still has 29 strikeouts over 16 1/3 innings. Jesse Chavez (3-4, 3.30) makes his fourth start since moving from the Rangers bullpen to their rotation. It will be his 38th appearance overall this season.
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