ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Adrian Beltre came to bat in the fifth inning looking for a pitch he could hit over the wall. He got one for an impressive modern-day record.
Beltre homered in his fourth at-bat to complete his third career cycle, becoming the first player since the 1930s to accomplish that, in the Texas Rangers’ wild 12-9 victory over the AL West-leading Houston Astros on Monday night.
“Not going to lie, I was looking for a home run,” said Beltre, who lined a fastball into the seats in left field.
A two-run triple by Beltre in the first inning put the Rangers ahead to stay at 3-2. He had a double in the second on another ball hit into the left-center gap, but he suddenly put on the brakes after rounding the base hard instead of going for another triple.
“I thought I might, but I changed my mind last second,” said Beltre, who rapidly circled both of his arms like he was trying to reverse his momentum.
Asked if he was thinking then about preserving the chance for a cycle, Beltre paused briefly before responding, “Maybe.”
Beltre had a single in the third before his ninth homer of the season completed the cycle against the third Astros pitcher. He was one of five Texas players with multiple RBIs in the game.
The last major leaguer with three career cycles was Babe Herman, who had two in 1931 and one in 1933, according to research provided by the Elias Sports Bureau to the Rangers. The only other big leaguers with three career cycles are Bob Meusel (1921, 1922 and 1928) and John Reilly (twice in 1883 and 1890).
“He’s our leader, and it’s just another testament, another story, another chapter in his book,” Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis said of Beltre, the 36-year-old third baseman in his 18th major league season.
“What an incredible feat for him,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Truly amazing.”
All three of Beltre’s cycles have come at the Rangers’ ballpark, two for the home team and one as a visitor when he was playing for Seattle on Sept. 1, 2008. His other cycle for Texas was Aug. 24, 2012, against Minnesota — and he’s the first player to have more than one in the Rangers’ 55-season franchise history.
Lewis (12-4) had to work hard over six innings for his fourth consecutive victory, giving up seven runs and 10 hits — three of those home runs. The right-hander is 8-1 in 14 career games against Astros, who previously scored only 17 runs in 75 1-3 innings off Lewis.
Shawn Tolleson worked the ninth for his 19th save in 20 chances.
Lance McCullers (5-4), at 21 the youngest starting pitcher in the majors, allowed six runs and seven hits while getting only one out. That came five days after he gave up only one run over seven innings to beat the Los Angeles Angels.
“It’s kind of frustrating,” he said. “I was watching the film, and I had two strikes on two different batters and they both fouled off curveballs that hit the dirt before they hit their bat.”
The Astros optioned McCullers back to the minors after the game.
“Probably a short stay in the minor leagues. We’ve been talking about his innings, his rest, how to monitor him,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “Unfortunately, it came on the heels of a rough start, but that was likely no matter what.”
ASTROS GOING DEEP
Jason Castro hit a grand slam for Houston, his third homer in 14 at-bats. Rookie Carlos Correa had a two-run shot to put the Astros ahead in the first, and Luis Valbuena’s solo homer in the second was his 20th of the season, but first in 83 at-bats since June 23.
It was the ninth cycle in Rangers’ history, their sixth since the beginning of the 2009 season, twice as many as any other team in the major leagues in that span — Arizona and Colorado have three each. Arizona in 2012 was the last team with two cycles in the same season. The last AL team with multiple cycles in the same year was Minnesota in 2009.
Astros: OF George Springer is traveling with the team and doing workouts that don’t involve the right wrist he fractured July 1. Hinch said Springer won’t get his wrist examined again until the Astros return home.
Rangers: C Carlos Corporan (left thumb sprain) is making progress in his minor league rehab, but Banister said Corporan needs to catch nine innings and play consecutive days.
Astros: Dan Straily is getting called up from Triple-A Fresno to start Tuesday in place of scheduled starter Mike Fiers, who ended up throwing five innings in relief Monday night.
Rangers: Yovani Gallardo (7-9, 3.39) was 0-3 with a 5.46 ERA in his last six starts, allowing five runs in each of his last three starts.