ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — After a difficult three-game “home” series in front of sparse crowds 1,000 miles from their ballpark, the Houston Astros are heading back to their flood-ravaged city. And they’re putting their inconvenience in perspective.
Jose Altuve homered, the Houston bullpen pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings and the Astros beat the Texas Rangers 5-1 on Thursday in the last game before they return to Houston.
Josh Reddick added an RBI single for the AL West-leading Astros, who avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of their instate rivals at Tropicana Field, where the series was relocated because of Hurricane Harvey.
“It’s been a tough week,” Astros pitcher Collin McHugh said. “Obviously, we’re really fortunate in so many ways, to have been able to escape the devastation that’s actually happened in Houston. We’ve been away for a while, and we’re all ready to get back home.”
Houston will have a previously unscheduled day off Friday and play a doubleheader Saturday against the Mets at Minute Maid Park. The downtown Houston stadium escaped major flood damage. Astros president Reid Ryan has said he hopes the weekend games “can serve as a welcome distraction” for the city.
For the Rangers, it was their first loss all year at the Tampa Bay Rays’ home park. They swept the Rays in a three-game series in June.
Chris Devenski (7-3) worked 2 1/3 innings in relief of McHugh to get the win. Ken Giles pitched the final two innings for his 27th save in 30 opportunities.
Devenski plans to spend part of the day off helping out wherever he can.
“It’s been tough on me because, in all reality, we should be there,” Devenski said. “We should have been there from the start of this.”
McHugh allowed one unearned run, but bench coach Alex Cora pulled him one out short of a potential victory. Cora was managing in place of A.J. Hinch, who was ejected by second-base umpire Joe West for arguing a catcher’s interference call in the first.
McHugh allowed four hits, walked two, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch in 4 2/3 innings.
“It’s a big win for us. I thought the bullpen was exceptional. I got to watch it on TV,” Hinch said. “We haven’t been playing our best in this series, and now we get on a plane and get to go home. It’s the best news of the day.”
Altuve’s home run, his 21st, came off Nick Martinez (3-6) in the first. Reddick put the Astros ahead with an RBI single in the fourth.
Martinez allowed two runs in five innings and struck out six.
Alex Bregman had an RBI single in the eighth, and Derek Fisher, who entered the game as a pinch runner, followed with a two-out, two-run single in his only at-bat.
Nomar Mazara drove in the Rangers’ only run with a fielder’s choice in the first. Texas is four games back of Minnesota for the second AL wild card.
“Very challenging road trip for us. But to take two of three against these guys is a plus to get us back to a .500 road trip,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Now we go home, play three games against Anaheim and see if we can’t gain a little ground.”
Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre, who got his 3,000th career hit this season, pulled up with a strained left hamstring while fielding a grounder in the seventh and was immediately pulled from the game.
Beltre, who missed 51 games at the start of this season with calf issues, said after the game that he would have an MRI on Friday.
“It’s too soon to tell. Get an MRI tomorrow and see where we’re at,” Beltre said. “Today, it doesn’t really feel good.”
Hinch said he didn’t understand why West felt the need to get involved in the discussion he was having with home plate umpire Chris Segal.
“I understand he’s protecting a younger umpire, but there was really no business for Joe to be involved in the argument,” Hinch said. “I didn’t say anything that was necessary to get thrown out by the home plate umpire, and then Joe got involved and decided I was done for the day. It was just unnecessary.”
The Astros claimed outfielder Cameron Maybin off waivers from the Angels on Thursday.
“I’ve got history with Cam. He’s a great human, a fun guy to be on our team,” Hinch said. “He’s got a ton of speed, can play all three outfield positions, so I’ll work him in.”
Joey Gallo hit what looked like a potential home run in the fourth for the Rangers, but the ball hit the B-ring on the catwalk at Tropicana Field and fell in the field of play. Gallo settled for a double and didn’t score.
“A little unfortunate with a ball that we felt that was going to be out of the ballpark for Gallo,” Banister said. “But we were unable to drive the runs when we had chances to.”
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The final game of the relocated three-game series drew 3,385 fans, the smallest crowd of the series. Attendance for Wednesday’s game was 6,123.
Astros: DH Carlos Beltran was hit on the foot by a pitch in the seventh and was removed from the game. … C Evan Gattis was placed on the 10-day DL with right wrist soreness. … RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (back) gave up two runs over five innings for Double-A Corpus Christi in his second rehab start.
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels will look for his 10th win of the season in the opener of a home series against the Angels.
Astros: After a day off, the Astros will send RHP Charlie Morton and RHP Brad Peacock to the mound on Saturday against the Mets in a doubleheader at Minute Maid Park.
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