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HOU@TEX: Oberholtzer fans seven over seven frames

ARLINGTON -- Astros manager Bo Porter said he was feeling under the weather Sunday afternoon, falling victim to the bug that's been going around the clubhouse lately. That was only part of his worries.

Following a second 1-0 loss to the Rangers in the span of three days at Globe Life Park, Porter said it's time for the team's struggling offense to get in gear, especially considering the Astros were a hit or two away from perhaps sweeping Texas.

Instead, the Rangers took two of three games from the Astros, winning a pair of 1-0 games in a series for the first time in club history. The Astros didn't have a runner reach second base Sunday.

"We need to get it going," Porter said. "You don't score, you have a zero chance of winning."

Rangers starter Martin Perez (2-0) threw eight scoreless innings to improve to 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts against the Astros. He allowed only five singles, three walks and struck out two batters to outduel Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer.

"It's pitching," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Houston, their young kids can throw the baseball, they've shown improvement and our young pitchers have, too. Our young kids are starting to get better and fighting a lot harder in certain situations."

Oberholtzer was terrific, allowing five hits and one run while striking out a career-high seven batters in seven innings. He was the fourth consecutive Astros starting pitcher to work seven innings, joining Dallas Keuchel, Scott Feldman and Jarred Cosart to post a 1.61 ERA in the team's last four games.

"Oberholtzer was outstanding," Porter said. "Our starters did a tremendous job this entire series. Pitching-wise, we did a tremendous job. The three starts they had put us in position to win all three games."

The Astros couldn't get a rally going after bouncing into four doubles plays, including three innings in a row in the sixth, seventh and eighth. They also had two runners thrown out trying to steal, one of which -- Matt Dominguez in the fifth inning -- came on a failed hit-and-run in an attempt to spark the offense.

"The hit-and-run today, that was trying to get the offense kick-started," Porter said. "At the same time, John Mallee and Ralph Dickenson, the hitting coaches, are doing a great job preparing all the guys and giving them the information. They're not seeing anything different than the preparation would tell them. At the end of the day, we just need to swing the bats better."

There are only a handful of players not struggling with the bat. Chris Carter (.150), Jason Castro (.171), Matt Dominguez (.190), Dexter Fowler (.235), Robbie Grossman (.136) and Jonathan Villar (.171) are all starters who are in slumps.

"Just keep swinging," Carlos Corporan said. "This is a game of mistakes, you know? You're going to hit mistakes, and when you don't get that many mistakes, what are you going to do? This is the big leagues. The difference between the big leagues and Triple-A is they minimize the mistakes here. We just need to get the little mistakes and try to take advantage of it. We didn't get that many today, and hopefully next time we get more opportunity."

Fowler, in an 0-for-15 funk, said it's too early to say if the players are pressing.

"You've got under 50 at-bats, so it's kind of hard to tell," he said. "These are winnable games, and we probably should have taken a few of them, but we'll get them next time."

Fowler began the season by going 6-for-12 in the first three games, but he's 2-for-22 since he missed four games with a stomach virus that sent him to the hospital.

"I'm not one to make excuses," he said. "I've got to see more pitches. Being at the top of the lineup, it's tough and you get back and your timing is a little bit off and things aren't clicking the way you want them to. You have to keep on battling. I've got 550 more at-bats."

The only baserunners Oberholtzer allowed through five innings came on back-to-back singles by Kevin Kouzmanoff and Michael Choice in the second inning. Josh Wilson and Shin-Soo Choo led off the sixth with consecutive singles, and Donnie Murphy scored Wilson with a sacrifice fly to put the Rangers ahead, 1-0.

The Astros managed only five hits against Perez, singles by Jesus Guzman in the first inning, Dominguez in the fifth, Corporan in the sixth, Jose Altuve in the seventh and Grossman in the eighth.

"All three games we could have won, but we're really close to cranking it up and starting to go our way," Corporan said. "The pitchers are doing a tremendous job for us. It's one big hit every game and we'll be alright. We're waiting for Carter, we're waiting for myself. We need heroes every day." Comments