Mired in rut, offense springs to life

Mired in rut, offense springs to life

HOUSTON -- With the entire Astros' offense in a pretty bad rut for most of the week, the club needed something to break right. It finally happened in one of Houston's biggest wins of the season, a 5-0 victory over the American League West-leading Rangers on Friday night.

"The third inning was pretty incredible for us," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "There were seven or eight quality at-bats right in a row. … We hadn't done that in a while, and I think it was good for our guys to feel the energy of handing the at-bat to the next guy in a better situation than what he inherited."

The run started with a leadoff single from left fielder Jake Marisnick, just outside the reach of Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre. George Springer followed it up with a deep fly out to center field, but rookie Alex Bregman, who has especially struggled to start his career, showed impressive patience on a crucial one-out walk to give Houston's two best hitters two on.

Correa's two-run single

From there, the Astros strung together four consecutive hits, including an RBI double from Jose Altuve, a two-run single from Carlos Correa and an RBI single from Tyler White to take a commanding 4-0 lead after three.

"It was great," Correa said. "That's the way we play. When we're at our best, we're able to turn a game around in just one inning. We were able to do that tonight, it was great and we got the win."

Offense has been in short supply lately for the Astros, who scored only seven runs in the six games leading up to Friday's win. It was the first time Houston scored more than two runs in a game since exactly one week ago, when the club lost, 14-6, to Detroit.

"I think this game can create some momentum," Altuve said. "[We'll] try to go out there tomorrow and the next day and get some wins."

Even more impressive, it came against one of the best teams in baseball and the club the Astros are trying to overtake for the division lead. After Friday's win, the Rangers' AL West lead is down to 5 1/2 games.

"I think so," Correa said when asked if a game like this restores some confidence. "Especially beating this team. This is a really good team that made a lot of moves at the Deadline. Being able to beat them the way we did today obviously gives you a lot of confidence."

The Astros improved to 26-2 this season when scoring four or more runs at home.

"We needed a breakthrough inning," Hinch said, "and that was it."

Jordan Ray is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.