Musgrove, 'pen struggle, Astros drop Lone Star Series
By T.R. Sullivan and Ryan Posner
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' biggest homestand of the season has turned into their most successful, and they now have their biggest lead yet in the American League West.
Texas collected 16 hits, seven for extra bases, Derek Holland held the Astros to two runs in six innings and the Rangers won their seventh straight game with a 12-4 victory on Saturday afternoon at Globe Life Park. The Rangers are now a season-high 28 games above .500 and 10 1/2 games ahead of the Astros in the division.
"This is not the time to look up and see what it is, how it is, where we are," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We need to continue to play good baseball. If you start thinking about stuff before you accomplish what you need to accomplish, that's when you set yourself up for challenging situations."
The Astros, losing to the Rangers for the second straight time and 13th in 15 games this season, are also now three games behind the Orioles in the AL Wild Card race. Rookie starter Joe Musgrove was knocked out after 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits.
"They're good, this is how they're good," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Our good version of us does these things to other teams as well. We haven't been able to solve them here, but we have another chance tomorrow."
The big moment in the game came in the top of the seventh when the Astros, trailing 5-2, loaded the bases with one out against Rangers reliever Keone Kela. But Kela escaped the jam by getting Carlos Correa to ground into an inning-ending double play. The Rangers broke it open with seven runs in their final two frames.
The two teams play again on Sunday afternoon in the finale of the Rangers' 10-game homestand. They have already won three of four from the Indians and swept a three-game series from the Mariners before winning the first two from the Astros.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Beltre goes deep again:Adrian Beltre hit his 25th home run of the season in the second inning and his fifth in the nine games on this homestand. The home run was also the 439th of his career, moving him past Andre Dawson and tying him with Paul Konerko for 42nd all time. Jason Giambi is next with 440.
Marisnick cuts down Beltran:Carlos Beltran walked and moved to second on a single from Beltre in the fifth, and with two outs, he tried to score on a Carlos Gomez single to center. But Jake Marisnick threw out Beltran, with catcher Jason Castro extending to make the tag as Beltran aimed for the back corner of home plate. Marisnick entered the game fifth among AL outfielders with 18 defensive runs saved this season.
Mazara hits 16th:Nomar Mazara hit his 16th home run of the season with a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth. It was just his third in 25 games, but it tied him with Ruben Sierra (1986) for the seventh most by a Rangers rookie. The record is 30 by Pete Incaviglia, also in '86.
Rangers pull double steal: The Rangers stole an extra run in the bottom of the seventh when they pulled off a double steal with Ian Desmond at third and Rougned Odor at first. There were two outs in the inning when Odor broke on Tony Sipp's first pitch to Gomez. Castro's throw seemed to be accurate and on time, but Odor slid around second baseman Jose Altuve's tag. That allowed Desmond to steal home and give the Rangers a 7-2 lead.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
This is only the second time in club history that the Rangers have had more than a 10-game lead in their division. They had an 11-game lead in the AL West on Sept. 30, 2010, and ended up winning the division by nine games.
Altuve felt right calf discomfort as he ran out his game-ending double-play ball. He gingerly ran to first base and was able to walk off the field under his own power. The Astros have listed him as day to day.
RODGERS HAS ROUGH DEBUT
Houston-area native Brady Rodgers, made his Major League debut when he entered the game in the eighth inning. The Astros purchased the righty's contract from Triple-A Fresno on Friday following September roster expansion. Rodgers' debut got off to a rocky start when the Rangers loaded the bases with nobody out, and Elvis Andrus drove two runners in with a single. Beltran and Odor then combined to drive in three runs with back-to-back doubles before Rodgers was relieved.
"It was exciting. It unfortunately didn't go the way I had planned, but there's always more outings ahead of me," Rodgers said. "I don't think this is the end of my career. You just gotta take the positives. I thought I made some good pitches and made some bad pitches. The hitters are a little better up here."
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh will start the series finale for the Astros at 2:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at Globe Life Park. Over his last five starts, McHugh is 2-2 with a 5.03 ERA and has allowed six home runs.
Rangers: Right-hander Yu Darvish starts Sunday's series finale. Darvish is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last five starts, and the Rangers have won all five.