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Blanco follows no-hitter with six one-hit innings as Astros beat Rangers

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Houston right-hander Ronel Blanco followed his no-hitter with one-hit ball over six scoreless innings, and the Astros beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 on Sunday night.

Six nights after throwing a no-hitter at home against Toronto in his first start of the season, Blanco held the World Series champs without a hit until Adolis García grounded a clean single up the middle with two outs in the sixth. Blanco (2-0) then retired Evan Carter on a flyball and was done after 90 pitches.

“He’s throwing an invisi-ball right now. I mean, nobody can hit it. I mean literally,” Houston reliever Ryan Pressly said.

“I’m a believer that all the hard work that you do is going to pay off at some time or another,” the 30-year-old Blanco said through a translator after his ninth career big league start. “So not really surprised with these things that are happening in my career.”

Yordan Alvarez hit a three-run homer for the Astros, his shot in the third coming right after Dane Dunning (1-1) had issued consecutive walks. It was the third homer of the season for Alvarez.

Rafael Montero was already warming up in the bullpen while Blanco was pitching in the sixth. Montero then pitched the seventh, and Pressly got three outs. Josh Hader handled the ninth on his 30th birthday for his first save since joining the Astros in free agency on a $95 million, five-year contract.

García drew a one-out walk from Hader, advanced on a wild pitch, and stopped Houston's bid for its third shutout this season when he scored on Justin Foscue's pinch-hit single for his first big league hit.

The Astros are still off to a 3-7 start, matching their worst since 2-8 in 2011, the first of three consecutive 100-loss seasons.

AL West-leading Texas (6-3) had its three-game winning streak snapped.

The Rangers had 31 hits in the first two games of the series, and for the first time since 2018 had back-to-back games in which every batter in their starting lineup had a hit.

They didn't get any off Blanco until the single by García that ended a long-shot bid to join Johnny Vander Meer for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938 with no-hitters in consecutive starts.

“The pitch was way off the plate. ... Obviously he was able to make contact and I have to tip my hat to him,” Blanco said. “He was able to make contact on a very tough pitch.”

Blanco struck out four and walked four against Texas after issuing two walks in his 105-pitch effort Monday. He has thrown 15 scoreless innings this season while allowing one hit.

“He's got great stuff. Coming off a no-hitter, carried that into tonight’s game,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “Pitched great, just shut us down. ... Pretty impressive really the run he's gotten on here the first two games of the season.”

Dunning struck out seven and walked three in his 6 2/3 innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six in pitching into the fourth inning of his first injury rehabilitation start with Triple-A Sugar Land. Verlander began this season on the 15-day injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. The 41-year-old, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, said he accomplished his No. 1 goal of throwing 65 pitches and feeling healthy.

Rangers: Right-handed reliever Josh Sborz was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right rotator cuff strain, a day after he felt pain in his shoulder while pitching the eighth inning.

UP NEXT

It's a matchup of left-handed starters in the series finale Monday night, with Framber Valdez (0-0, 2.19 ERA) for the Astros and Andrew Heaney (0-1, 1.93 ERA) for Texas.

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