HOUSTON (AP) — A ninth-inning rally by the Texas Rangers came up short in a 9-7 loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday.
The Rangers, however, hope the big inning will give them a boost heading into the series finale on Sunday.
Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve hit two homers apiece as the Astros connected a season-high six times in the victory over the Rangers that cut Texas’ lead in the AL West to 3 1/2 games.
The Rangers scored three runs in the ninth off closer Luke Gregerson to cut the lead to two with two outs. Gregerson was replaced by Will Harris after he plunked Adrian Beltre to leave runners at first and second. Harris retired Mitch Moreland for his second save.
“That was fun,” Moreland said of the late push. “That’s what you play for right there. Go out and string those innings together, keep putting pressure on guys. We’ve been able to do it all year and it was another example today. Never give up. … Tt was a fun game. We were on the wrong end of it, but it carries some momentum into tomorrow.”
The victory breaks an eight-game losing streak to the Rangers and ends a three-game skid overall for Houston, which increased its lead for the second AL wild card spot to one game over the Angels, who play later Saturday.
Manager Jeff Banister described his team after the loss on Saturday.
“Full of energy and full of life,” he said. “A lot of confidence. I believe these guys have all the ingredients and all the makings to be the type of ball club that battles through all those types of situations.”
Derek Holland yielded seven hits and four runs in five innings and Chi Chi Gonzalez (4-6) allowed one hit and three runs — one earned — in 1 2-3 innings for the loss.
Holland got hit on his left hand by a ball hit by Altuve in the first inning and said it bothered him the rest of the day.
“He battled through that all day long,” Banister said. “Probably didn’t have the best feel for the baseball. But it felt like he grinded it out well enough.”
Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus also homered for the Astros, who are second in the majors with 216 longballs this season. The six homers Texas gave up were a season high.
The Astros trailed by 3 early before Correa’s second home run, this one a two-run shot, tied it at 4-in the third. Carter’s 418-foot home run to left-center put Houston on top 5-4 in the sixth and Rasmus’s two-run drive extended the lead to 8-4 in the seventh.
Altuve, who returned to the lineup after being injured in a collision Friday night, got his first multihomer game when he went deep again in the eighth inning.
Collin McHugh (18-7) settled down after his tough first inning to allow eight hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings for his fifth straight win.
Shin-Soo Choo homered for the second straight day for the Rangers and Moreland and Prince Fielder had two RBIs each.
Correa shook off his first career game with three strikeouts on Friday with his second multihomer game. The rookie had three hits and reached base safely on each of his five at-bats thanks to a walk and a wild pitch. His 21 home runs are the most by a shortstop in franchise history, surpassing the 20 Dickie Thon hit in 1983. The top overall pick in 2012 also tied Lance Berkman for most home runs by a rookie in team history.
He became the fifth Astro with at least 20 home runs this season, tying a franchise record last set in 2004.
Moreland drove in two runs with a double in the first inning to make it 2-0. The Rangers pushed the lead to 3-0 on an RBI single by Rougned Odor.
Astros: OF Carlos Gomez (intercostal strain) missed his 13th straight game but manager A.J. Hinch said he could return to the lineup in the next couple of days. He was available as a defensive replacement.
Rangers: Texas OF Josh Hamilton was in the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 15. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Sept. 11 and has appeared in two games as a pinch hitter since then. Banister isn’t sure how much Hamilton will play in the future. “It’s still day to day based off how he feels,” Banister said. “We’re at a point now where we need to find out how it’s going to go.”
The series wraps up when Houston ace Dallas Keuchel (18-8, 2.51) opposes Martin Perez (3-5, 4.96). Keuchel is 14-0 at home this season with a 1.47 ERA, but allowed a season-high nine runs in a loss to Texas on Sept. 16.