HOUSTON (AP) — Michael Brantley has been a force in the middle of the lineup during his first season with the Astros.
He kept that going on Sunday.
Brantley homered twice, Jose Altuve also went deep and Houston beat the struggling Texas Rangers 5-3 for its fifth straight victory.
Rogelio Armenteros pitched five solid innings in his first major league start, sending Texas to its seventh loss in a row.
“To come back home and get a sweep, especially against somebody in the division, it’s a positive,” Brantley said. “We are doing it as a team. One guy doesn’t have to carry this team.”
Brantley put the AL West leaders on the board with a two-run drive to right-center in the first and added a solo shot to right field in the eighth. He finished with three hits and has been comfortable swinging at Minute Maid Park, where he’s batting .347 with nine homers and 23 RBIs this season.
“I think he’s just lived up to what we expected and what he’s been doing,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. “He was an All-Star before he got here. He hit in the middle of a playoff team. He was an incredibly tough out, and so when we got him to balance out the middle of our order, he’s done everything we could have hoped for and more.”
Houston scored two in the fifth with a two-out rally that Altuve started with a solo home run to center. Yordan Alvarez hit an RBI single to make it 4-1.
Danny Santana cut the lead to 2-1 in the third with an RBI single for the Rangers. Nomar Mazara hit a solo homer in the sixth off Josh James, and Logan Forsythe had a solo homer in the ninth.
“I think we had pretty high expectations there for a while,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “People were picking us to be one of the teams because we proved a lot of people wrong, and then we lose seven in a row. Now I guarantee it’s going to be like, ‘Oh, the Rangers are done.’ There’s a lot of character in that room. We’re not done, I can promise you that.”
Armenteros (1-0) yielded one run and two hits with six strikeouts. The right-hander earned his first career win after three relief appearances for the Astros.
“For Armenteros today to give us five today was huge,” Hinch said. “To be effective, mix his pitches, I thought he did a good job of utilizing his breaking ball today. His fastball was good and really pitched out of the only jam he was in.”
Josh Reddick robbed Rougned Odor of a two-run homer in the second, timing his jump and easily making the catch in front of the wall. Armenteros tipped his cap to Reddick, who responded by pounding his chest with his fist.
Roberto Osuna worked the ninth for his 22nd save.
Lance Lynn (12-6) matched a career high with 12 strikeouts in seven innings. He allowed four runs and seven hits.
“We lost, but every time I take the mound, it’s with the intent to win,” Lynn said. “If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t go out there.”
Lynn retired 13 of 14 batters, including 10 by strikeout, before Altuve’s homer in the fifth.
HE SAID IT
“It was pretty much a reminder of how good of a team we are. When you’re going through a bad week, you forget all the good things we’ve accomplished this year. That’s the way this game is — there’s going to be ups and downs, and it’s how you respond from those down moments.” — Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus on the message in a team meeting after the game.
Astros: INF Aledmys Díaz (hamstring) will have the day off Sunday on his rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi. Hinch said Díaz will work out with Corpus Christi on Sunday before the Astros decide whether he gets activated Monday or plays another game at Double-A. “He’s playing fine. It’s just a matter of volume and him feeling like he’s capable of playing up here,” Hinch said.
Rangers: RHP Adrian Sampson (6-6, 4.92 ERA) will make his 23rd appearance and 13th start on Monday in the series opener against Seattle. It will be Sampson’s first start since July 5 at the Twins, when he was tagged for seven runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Astros: RHP Gerrit Cole (10-5, 3.12) makes his 22nd start of the season Monday in a series opener versus Oakland. Cole struck out 11 and allowed one run in seven innings last time out Wednesday against the Angels.