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Back end of 'pen dominating for Rangers

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HOUSTON -- Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan combined to retire 10 straight hitters in the Rangers' 4-2 victory over the Astros on Friday night. Nathan earned the save, and Texas has converted all 11 save opportunities this season. The Rangers are the first team to open the season with 11 straight successful save opportunities since the Tigers and Phillies in 2006.

Rangers relievers went into Saturday's game with a 1.57 ERA over their past nine games, dropping their season ERA to 2.76. That's the third lowest for a bullpen in the American League. Scheppers has an 0.50 ERA, which is the lowest for a qualifying AL reliever. Ross is tied for second with an 0.56 ERA.

The bullpen was a big concern in Spring Training, but has emerged as a strength at the beginning of the season because of the way some young pitchers have responded in front of Nathan.

"Robbie Ross and Scheppers were in our bullpen last year," manager Ron Washington said. "Now they have had to take on bigger roles, and you've got to give them credit for doing just that. Those guys have been there. It may have been in lesser roles, but they were there and now they're doing what they're capable of doing. I am impressed."

Ross earned his first victory of the season on Friday and is 7-0 as a Major League pitcher.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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