Early lead gets away from Astros in Arlington

Early lead gets away from Astros in Arlington

ARLINGTON -- Thanks to a three-run fifth inning, the Rangers clinched a series victory against the Astros with a 4-3 win on Tuesday.

Houston had a two-run lead until the fourth inning, when Prince Fielder's solo home run put the Rangers on the board against Astros starter Dan Straily. After the fifth, Rangers right-hander Yovani Gallardo allowed a home run to outfielder Carlos Gomez -- his first as an Astro -- to put Houston within one run, but closer Shawn Tolleson and the Texas bullpen shut the door to preserve the win despite allowing two runners to reach scoring position in the ninth.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Cody Stavenhagen is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gomez's 1st Astros HR is his 100th overall

Gomez's 1st Astros HR is his 100th overall

ARLINGTON -- The ball jumped off his bat, and Carlos Gomez circled the bases for the first time in an Astros uniform, playfully tapping his helmet when he stepped on second and third. It was just his first home run with the Astros, but it was the 100th of his career, and brought Houston within a run in a game it would eventually drop, 4-3, to the Rangers.

Gomez, acquired in a trade from the Brewers last week, led off the sixth inning with a solo shot into left-center off former teammate Yovani Gallardo. It was his first career homer against the Rangers, one of three clubs he hadn't taken deep.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Missed chances hurt Astros vs. Rangers

Missed chances hurt Astros vs. Rangers

ARLINGTON -- The ninth inning of Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Rangers pretty much summed up a frustrating day at the office for the Astros, who stranded runners at second and third to end the game and finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

The Astros' high-powered offense, which had been averaging 6.4 runs per game in the seven games prior to Tuesday, also stranded the bases loaded in the sixth after getting three on base with one out.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hinch sticking with hot hand at first base

Hinch sticking with hot hand at first base

ARLINGTON -- The Astros are using a three-man rotation at first base, a position that was locked down by Chris Carter for the first half of the season. But his yearlong struggles on offense and the return of third baseman Jed Lowrie -- which pushes Luis Valbuena to first base on occasion -- has meant less playing time, and he has started at first just once in the past week.

Carter, who started 74 of the season's first 80 games at first, is still getting the occasional assignment, as well as some starts as designated hitter, but manager A.J. Hinch has been going with the hot hand, which means a rotation of Carter, Valbuena and Marwin Gonzalez.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Straily recalled as Astros option McCullers

Straily recalled as Astros option McCullers

ARLINGTON -- The Astros added Dan Straily to their rotation on Tuesday afternoon, recalling the right-hander from Triple-A Fresno, as expected. The spot Straily filled previously belonged to righty Lance McCullers, who was optioned to Double-A Corpus Christi after Monday night's 12-9 loss to the Rangers. Straily is scheduled to pitch on three days' rest against Texas' Yovani Gallardo at Globe Life Park on Tuesday night at 7:05 CT.

On Monday night, McCullers faced nine hitters and allowed seven hits, one walk and six runs while recording one out in the shortest outing of his young career.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stingy Kazmir steers Astros in finale with Rangers

Stingy Kazmir steers Astros in finale with Rangers

Astros left-hander Scott Kazmir, who earlier this week was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for July, makes his third start for Houston since coming over in a trade with Oakland in Wednesday's series finale against the Rangers at Globe Life Park.

Kazmir, who posted the third-lowest July ERA (0.26) in Major League history, hasn't allowed a run in two starts in 14 2/3 innings with the Astros.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros belt three HRs in loss to Rangers

Astros belt three HRs in loss to Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Led by Adrian Beltre's record-tying cycle, the Rangers opened a three-game series with the Astros by outslugging them, 12-9, on Monday night. The Rangers have won five of their last six games.

"It was a good night, a good win for the team," Beltre said. "We came out swinging the bats and got some big hits."

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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros' catchers catching fire at the plate

Astros' catchers catching fire at the plate

ARLINGTON -- Astros catchers continued their torrid pace in Monday's 12-9 loss to the Rangers. Jason Castro went 2-for-4 and clubbed his third career grand slam, extending his hitting streak to seven games.

Castro and Hank Conger are hitting .462 with five homers -- including Monday's grand slam by Castro and one from Conger on Saturday) -- and 16 RBIs in the last seven games. Castro and Conger are the first catching duo to hit grand slams in the same season for the Astros since Mark Bailey and Alan Ashby in 1985.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Early debut for Fiers after McCullers falters

Early debut for Fiers after McCullers falters

ARLINGTON -- Mike Fiers' debut with the Astros came a day earlier than manager A.J. Hinch had planned. Fiers, acquired in a trade with the Brewers last week, was pressed into action in the Astros' 12-9 loss to the Rangers on Monday night after starting pitcher Lance McCullers didn't make it out of the first inning.

Fiers was tagged for six runs on seven hits in five innings, but he saved an undermanned bullpen and possibly kept the Astros from having a position player pitch, and is now scheduled to make his first start for Houston on Sunday in Oakland.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kazmir named AL Pitcher of the Month

Kazmir named AL Pitcher of the Month

ARLINGTON -- Left-hander Scott Kazmir has been named the American League Pitcher of the Month after going 2-0 with a 0.26 ERA in five July starts.

It is the second career monthly honor for Kazmir, who last won it in May 2008, while with the Rays. He split this past July between Oakland and Houston after being traded on July 23.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gomez loving 'Club Astros' environment

Center fielder delivers decisive hit, feels he's fitting right in

Gomez loving 'Club Astros' environment

HOUSTON -- Walking in to any new environment is daunting. For the uninitiated, walking into the Astros' clubhouse after a win, though, it can get a bit more cumbersome.

Created by George Springer, fog envelops a darkened room as strobe lights flash to the beat of techno music in "Club Astros" after each victory, and it was no different after Sunday's 4-1 win over the D-backs.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Former waiver pickup McHugh keeps winning

Astros righty earns fourth straight victory, leads Majors with 20 since Aug. 1, 2014

Former waiver pickup McHugh keeps winning

HOUSTON -- Collin McHugh came to the Astros off waivers with a career record of 0-8 and two consecutive seasons with an ERA above 7.00.

How he's transformed himself into a pitcher who's tied for the American League lead in wins with 13 after Sunday's 4-1 rubber-game victory over the D-backs is hard for even McHugh to answer.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros take rubber game over D-backs

Astros take rubber game over D-backs

HOUSTON -- Carlos Gomez collected his first two RBIs as an Astro with a fourth-inning tiebreaking single, while Collin McHugh danced around trouble all afternoon, stranding seven D-backs in seven innings to propel Houston to its 60th win and secure a series victory, 4-1, on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.

"I stepped to the plate and it was a different feeling like, 'I got this,'" Gomez said. "So finally I put a good swing and hit it the other way to produce for the team. ... I just stayed inside and drove the ball the other way and I put a good swing on it. ... I made an adjustment, saw the ball better, stayed inside and hit it good."

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fiers fired up to make Astros debut

Newly acquired righty starts Tuesday vs. Rangers

Fiers fired up to make Astros debut

HOUSTON -- Though the newest Astros pitcher comes to the clubhouse sporting a full beard, lockermate Dallas Keuchel shouldn't worry.

"I grew it out for a while about a month ago," Mike Fiers said before Sunday's 4-1 Astros win over the D-backs. "I think I just got lazy at the time and I just let it go. I'll try to keep it somewhat tame here. I don't think it'll get as wild as Keuchel, even though he keeps it pretty groomed."

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Correa continues ascent with first 2-HR effort

Rookie phenom sets Astros record with 12 dingers in first 46 games

Correa continues ascent with first 2-HR effort

HOUSTON -- As Astros manager A.J. Hinch put it after Saturday's 9-2 win over the D-backs, it takes a man to go opposite field.

Carlos Correa is a man.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Keuchel improves to 10-0 at home

After 44-pitch second inning, Astros ace stifles D-backs

Keuchel improves to 10-0 at home

HOUSTON -- A 44-pitch second inning aside, Dallas Keuchel remained perfect at home during the Astros' 9-2 win against the D-backs on Saturday.

Keuchel's scoreless streak at Minute Maid Park came to an end in that frame at 15 1/3 innings and he uncharacteristically issued three walks, due he said to a little extra movement on his two-seam fastball.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros rout D-backs on strength of 4 HRs

Astros rout D-backs on strength of 4 HRs

HOUSTON -- Carlos Correa and Hank Conger each notched their first career multihomer games, while Astros ace Dallas Keuchel overcame control issues to earn his 13th win and improve to 10-0 at Minute Maid Park this season, snapping the D-backs' six-game winning streak with a 9-2 victory on Saturday night.

After depositing the first pitch of the third inning into the right-field bleachers, Conger padded a 3-2 Astros lead with his first career grand slam, capping a five-run fourth that chased D-backs starter Jeremy Hellickson. Correa, who snuck one just inside the left-field foul pole in the first, followed with a two-run shot in the sixth, giving him the American League lead in round-trippers among shortstops.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Catching duo packing plenty of punch

Astros' Conger, Castro combine for 4 HRs in past 3 games

Catching duo packing plenty of punch

HOUSTON -- To get a smile and a story out of Astros manager A.J. Hinch, mention one of two things -- Stanford or catchers.

The Cardinal alum and seven-year Major League backstop is partial to the position, even joking in the dugout during Saturday's 9-2 win over Arizona that a solid chunk of Houston's offensive power squats behind the plate.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fiers set for Astros debut Tuesday

Club optioning Velasquez to make room; Deduno to have hip surgery Tuesday

Fiers set for Astros debut Tuesday

HOUSTON -- Though he still hadn't met Mike Fiers in person, Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced before Saturday's 9-2 win over the D-backs that Fiers -- acquired along with Carlos Gomez in Thursday's trade with the Brewers -- will start Tuesday against the Rangers in Arlington.

Fiers' fifth day of rest is Monday, but Hinch said he wants to give Fiers an extra day off so he can get acclimated to Houston, throw a bullpen session with Astros pitching coach Brent Strom and have his focus squarely on baseball. 

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Duquette

Duquette: Three biggest Deadline winners

Duquette: Three biggest Deadline winners

While the actual Deadline day didn't feature many high-profile moves, the last week has been filled with them. Now that the dust has settled, here are the three clubs that I think improved the most as a result of Trade Deadline deals.

Blue Jays
They are the clear the winner at the Deadline. Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos pushed all of his trade chips to the front in acquiring five players, headlined by starter David Price and All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Price becomes the ace of a pitching staff that has ranked toward the bottom in the American League in ERA, while Tulo improves an already deep Blue Jays lineup and upgrades their infield defense.

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Jim Duquette is an analyst for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gomez puts tough Astros debut behind him

Center fielder goes 0-for-5, makes costly miscue in field

Gomez puts tough Astros debut behind him

HOUSTON -- Though his Astros debut didn't go as planned, Carlos Gomez remained upbeat and smiling in the clubhouse following Friday night's 6-4, 10-inning defeat against the D-backs, even taking the blame for the loss, which snapped Houston's seven-game home winning streak.

Gomez was talking about Welington Castillo's pivotal fly ball to right field in the sixth inning that he chased down, calling off right fielder Colby Rasmus. Gomez took a peek at Rasmus as he was running the ball down, though, and by the time he looked back up to the ball, he had overrun it -- a miscue, but not officially an error.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bullpen can't hold lead in loss to D-backs

Bullpen can't hold lead in loss to D-backs

HOUSTON -- Welington Castillo and Jake Lamb launched back-to-back homers off reliever Pat Neshek to start the 10th inning and send the D-backs to their sixth consecutive win, 6-4, over the Astros in the series opener Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

Jason Castro's blasted a three-run homer in the fifth and Carlos Correa followed with a solo shot two outs later to give Houston a 4-1 lead. Arizona, which improved to 50-51, rallied with a pair in the sixth after David Peralta and Castillo began the inning with back-to-back hits, and Peralta delivered an RBI single off Tony Sipp in the seventh to tie the game.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gonzalez's mistake denies Castro a chance

Astros first baseman caught off first base to end ninth

Gonzalez's mistake denies Castro a chance

HOUSTON -- Astros first baseman Marwin Gonzalez wasn't trying to make up for what was nearly a disastrous baserunning gaffe only moments earlier, when he didn't run hard out of the box and reached first only after D-backs pitcher Daniel Hudson dropped the ball for an error to extend the inning.

With walk-off hero Jason Castro at the plate and a chance to win the game for the second straight night for the Astros, Gonzalez was eager to get into scoring position and wound up getting caught when he strayed too far from first, a play that punctuated the Astros' 6-4 loss to the D-backs at Minute Maid Park.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gregarious Gomez fits right in with Astros

Fiers to be activated Saturday, will join rotation

Gregarious Gomez fits right in with Astros

HOUSTON -- After he finished with a gaggle of reporters in his new clubhouse, Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez sought out Pat Neshek, an old nemesis in Gomez's National League Central days.

"I'm so glad I don't have to face you anymore," Gomez yelled, hugging the former Cardinals reliever whose held Gomez hitless in six career plate appearances.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The best Deadline acquisition? Carlos Gomez

New Houston outfielder potentially worth two additional wins in tight AL West race

The best Deadline acquisition? Carlos Gomez

Now that the 2015 Trade Deadline has passed with a flurry of deals and big names in the week leading up to July 31, which single deal was the best fit of the week? There's no obvious right answer to this, of course. If you're a Toronto fan who doesn't care about prospect cost, then the Blue Jays getting David Price and Troy Tulowitzki for a late run was exhilarating. The Royals found their long-needed ace in Johnny Cueto; the Dodgers rebuilt a pitching staff with Alex Wood, Mat Latos, Luis Avilan, and Jim Johnson (not to mention top prospect Jose Peraza) for essentially nothing more than cash, considering they'd only signed Hector Olivera a few months ago.   

Those are all fine options, and your team allegiances probably play a big part in which one you like. But what, we say, about the deal that brought the Houston Astros Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers? It's got everything you want in a Deadline deal, doesn't it? The Astros haven't been more than two games ahead of or behind the Angels since July 8, making every game vital. Both are upgrades over what they're replacing, Gomez particularly, and neither player is a rental, with Gomez signed through 2016 and Fiers through '20. It's the right kind of deal, from the most fascinating team possible -- the Astros, of course, haven't had a winning season since 2008.

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Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) is an analyst for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros tried to get Chapman or Kimbrel

Team, players pleased with additions to first-place club

Astros tried to get Chapman or Kimbrel

HOUSTON -- The Astros made a strong push at landing front-line closers Aroldis Chapman of the Reds and Craig Kimbrel of the Padres right up to Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, which ultimately passed without them being able to pull the trigger on another deal.

If the Astros were able to bring either to Houston, it might have made them the favorite to win the American League, but they still bettered their chances in the days leading up to the Deadline by adding left-hander Scott Kazmir last week and outfielder Carlos Gomez and starter Mike Fiers from the Brewers on Thursday.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

D-backs integral in Hinch finding way to dugout

Astros manager was on front-office track until unexpected offer in Arizona

D-backs integral in Hinch finding way to dugout

HOUSTON -- The calculated, cerebral facets of running an organization -- building a roster, mingling in a front office -- appeal to Astros manager A.J. Hinch, a Stanford graduate with a psychology degree. In fact, after seven years as a big league backstop, he sought to become a general manager.

Until a 2009 lunch date with then-D-backs GM Josh Byrnes that led to Hinch becoming the team's manager, he was on that trajectory.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fan at Astros game taken to hospital

HOUSTON -- A male fan laid unresponsive for more than 10 minutes in the stands before the Astros' 6-4 victory over the D-backs on Friday and was transported from Minute Maid Park to a local hospital, according to an Astros spokesman.

The fan was surrounded by paramedics and first responders, who appeared to be giving him chest compressions before he was transported.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.