- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - All it took for Texas Rangers rookie right-hander Nick Martinez to end two bizarre pitching droughts was a visit with a Hall of Famer.

Martinez talked pitch sequence last weekend in Anaheim with Greg Maddux, a Rangers special assistant and brother of Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux. In Martinez’s first start since that conversation, he threw 6 2-3 scoreless innings on Tuesday night to beat the Houston Astros 2-1 to get his first home win and first at night.

“Sometimes I go to my out pitch early in the count to create early contact,” said Martinez (5-11). “He was telling me there’s no need to do that. Just focus on getting strike one, strike two. After that, you can focus on getting him out.”

Martinez allowed five hits, no walks and struck out five. He went into the game 0-6 in eight starts at Globe Life Park in Arlington and 0-10 in 14 starts at night.

Both runs scored in the fourth inning, on a 405-foot home run to center field by Robinson Chirinos and an RBI single by David Robertson.

The Rangers have won three straight and 10 of their last 11.

“To go ahead and have a good string of games right here at the end gets their confidence going,” Rangers interim manager Tim Bogar said.

The Astros, already assured of their best finish since 2010, have dropped six of their last eight. Interim manager Tom Lawless said his team might be pressing but shows no quit.

“Twenty-seven outs are in that game,” Lawless said. “We’re going to play 27 outs.”

Martinez has a 2.12 earned run average over his last five starts. He didn’t walk a batter for the first time in his 23 starts this season.

“Early in the season, you could see him let the game speed up on him,” Bogar said “Tonight, he didn’t allow that to happen.”

Adrian Beltre and Jake Smolinski each had three hits for Texas.

Neal Cotts allowed a run in the ninth, earning his second save in nine opportunities. Neftali Feliz, Texas’ regular closer, was rested after throwing 31 pitches the last two days.

HUNT IN OCTOBER: Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he hopes to name a permanent replacement for manager Ron Washington “inside of October.” Daniels said he hasn’t asked any organizations for permission to interview anyone but has done due diligence on individuals employed by other teams. Washington resigned Sept. 5.

GLOVE LOVE: When Rangers season-ticket holder Mike Jeffus of Flower Mound, Texas, leaned over the railing into foul territory to catch a fly ball hit down the right-field line hit by Houston’s Matt Dominguez in the fourth inning, it was the third time in recent weeks that Jeffus has made such a grab.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Josh Fields (general soreness) and LHP Darin Downs (oblique) remain day to day. Fields last pitched on Sept. 9, Downs on Sept. 19.

Rangers: 2B Jurickson Profar (shoulder) has been shut down for the third time since aggravating a 2010 injury during spring training. General manager Jon Daniels said Profar will undergo physical therapy and rehab work with the hope of being able to throw around early January.

UP NEXT

Astros RHP Scott Feldman (8-11) will start Wednesday night’s series finale. Feldman has recorded sixth consecutive quality starts. Rangers RHP Lisalverto Bonilla (2-0) will try to become the first Rangers pitcher to win his first three career starts since Alexi Ogando in April 2011. Bonilla took a no-hitter into the fifth inning of his most recent start.

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