ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Texas Rangers All-Star right-hander Nathan Eovaldi gave up two homers to Houston's Jose Altuve in his return from the injured list, allowing four runs while getting four outs Tuesday night.
Eovaldi's first outing since July 18 because of a right forearm strain started and ended with homers from Altuve, the second coming on Eovaldi's 35th pitch with one out in the second inning. Dane Dunning replaced Eovaldi at that point.
The Rangers planned for Eovaldi's outing to be short, and Dunning was up in the bullpen in the first inning when the Astros scored three runs. José Abreu and Chas McCormick also had RBIs off Eovaldi.
He was activated in the middle game of a pivotal AL West series against the Astros.
After Eovaldi won his last start before going on the IL the Rangers had a 4 1/2-game division lead. Seven weeks later, they went into Tuesday night in third place behind Seattle and Houston, with 13 losses in their previous 17 games.
Texas also called up 38-year-old right-handed reliever Ian Kennedy from Triple-A Round Rock. To make room on the 28-man roster, Josh Sborz was placed on the 15-day IL with a left hamstring issue and fellow reliever Glenn Otto was designated for assignment.
Sborz allowed six runs before getting an out while pitching in relief during a 13-6 loss to the Astros in the series opener Monday, after Otto gave up two homers in his 1 1/3 innings of work.
The Rangers reinstated Eovaldi without him making a rehab start in the minors. He hasn't faced live hitters since Aug. 21 but felt good after bullpen sessions Friday and Sunday.
In that July 18 game against Tampa Bay, Eovaldi threw two-hit ball over six scoreless innings in his only start for Texas since July 6. His 11th victory gotten that night matched the major league lead at the time, and he threw a scoreless inning for the AL team in the All-Star game on July 11.
The Rangers have gone 19-22 since Eovaldi last pitched, including the opener against Houston when Andrew Heaney didn't make it out of the fifth inning. That was the ninth game in a row that the Texas starter didn't get a decision, and the 17th consecutive game since a victory, the last being Jordan Montgomery on Aug. 15 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Houston went into Tuesday night withing a percentage point of the Mariners for first place in the AL West. The Rangers were only a game behind in the division, but they also were only a half-game ahead of Toronto for the AL's third and final wild-card spot.
Kennedy was 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in 11 appearances earlier this season for Texas before being designated for assignment and sent to Round Rock, where he was 1-0 with three saves and a 3.55 ERA in 22 games. Kennedy had 16 saves in 32 appearance for the Rangers in 2021 before a midseason trade to Philadelphia, then pitched for Arizona last year. He went to spring training with Texas this year on a minor league deal.
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The Associated Press