Yu Darvish and Nelson Cruz said the same three words to describe their emotions in the bottom of the ninth inning when the Houston Astros were threatening to come back from a four-run deficit.

No, they weren’t nervous about seeing the game slip away.

“We got Nathan,” they said.

That would be Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan, who came through again. Nathan prevented a potential meltdown as he closed out an 8-7 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Darvish and Cruz were the standout players for the Rangers until the ninth. Darvish turned in another solid outing by allowing three runs over seven innings, and Cruz delivered a game-tying home run for a second consecutive night in a six-run sixth for the Rangers.

And the game seemed to be all but over when the Rangers had an 8-4 lead going into the ninth and handed the ball to Michael Kirkman.

“It’s going to take a whale of a rally to tie the game,” Lance Berkman said of the situation. “Obviously whenever they can get the winning run to the plate, it’s a credit to them. But Joe was there to nail it down. Probably not the way you draw it up, but we’ll take it.”

The first two batters reached against Kirkman, which forced Nathan into the game.

Nathan allowed the two inherited runners to score on an RBI single by Trevor Crowe and a wild pitch that also allowed Crowe to advance to third. But he retired Matt Dominguez with a nice play on a dribbler and got the second out on a sacrifice fly by Marwin Gonzalez.

Nathan walked Robbie Grossman to bring the game-winning run to the plate but ended the threat by getting pinch hitter Chris Carter to pop up.

“Nothing is comfortable until the last out,” Nathan said. “We play nine innings; a lot of teams do, and they showed they had some fight in them.”

The close call at the end overshadowed Darvish’s first start in Houston since his near-perfect game on April 2. That night, Marwin Gonzalez broke up the potential perfecto with a two-out single in the ninth.

Another relatively unknown Astros player, Dominguez, introduced himself to Darvish on Saturday. Dominguez, known more for his defense than offense, homered twice in the first five innings, the first big leaguer to do that against Darvish in the same game.

Dominguez sent a two-seam fastball over the left-field fence in the third inning and then delivered a two-run homer on a cut fastball in the fifth inning to give the Astros a 3-1 lead.

“He was really aggressive; that’s why he was able to get me,” Darvish said.

“Darvish’s Achilles’ heel today was Dominguez,” manager Ron Washington said. “Other than that, I thought he did a good job.”

At that point, Houston appeared to be in control of the game. Astros starter Erik Bedard had only given up a solo homer to Adrian Beltre and worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning.