ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Rangers overtook the Houston Astros for first place in the AL West, winning another tense Texas showdown 6-5 on Mitch Moreland’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday night.
Adrian Beltre’s fourth hit put the Rangers in position to win a night after Prince Fielder pulled them within a half-game of the Astros with a tiebreaking two-run home run in the eighth. Houston had been in first place since July 28.
Fielder opened the ninth with a single to left off Oliver Perez (2-3), and pinch-runner Drew Stubbs went to third on Beltre’s third single. Moreland sent a 1-0 pitch from Will Harris to Colby Rasmus in shallow center field, but Rasmus’ throw was off target and bounced, allowing Stubbs to score easily.
Texas closer Shawn Tolleson (6-3) pitched a scoreless ninth as the Rangers (77-67) moved into sole possession of first place for the first time this year, at a season-high 10 games over .500. Houston (77-68) holds the second AL wild card.
Houston’s Evan Gattis finished a rally from an early four-run deficit with a two-out, two-run single for a 5-4 lead in the fourth. His soft two-strike liner over leaping shortstop Elvis Andrus kept Texas starter Derek Holland from escaping after the Astros put runners at the corners with nobody out.
The Rangers answered with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Fielder singled and scored from first on a groundball double down the left-field line from Beltre, who drove in two runs.
Astros starter Collin McHugh allowed the first five Texas hitters to reach in a four-run first inning after giving up just four runs over 19 innings in his first three career starts against the Rangers.
McHugh allowed five runs for the second straight start in 3 2-3 innings, leaving after Beltre’s tying double.
Holland couldn’t hold a 4-0 lead, immediately allowing the first four hitters to reach in the second before Jake Marisnick’s sacrifice squeeze bunt scored Jonathan Villar to get the Astros to 4-3.
All nine Houston starters had at least one hit off Holland, who gave up 10 hits and five runs in 5 2-3 innings.
Astros: 3B Jed Lowrie was out of the lineup after getting banged up on consecutive pitches in Monday’s series opener. He fouled a ball off his left shin, and then got hit by a pitch on his left foot. He ended up leaving the game. Manager A.J. Hinch said he wasn’t sure if Lowrie would be available off the bench. … CF Carlos Gomez (left rib muscle) rejoined the team Tuesday after being scratched from the lineup Sunday at the Los Angeles Angels and getting evaluated Monday in Houston. Hinch said he was day to day.
Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos (strained left shoulder) caught in the cages for the first time since re-injuring the shoulder last Wednesday at Seattle.
Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel (17-7, 2.22 ERA) has allowed three runs in 22 innings over three starts against the Rangers this season. He has just one win, though — 10-0 on July 19.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-5, 5.43) got an extra day of rest when the Rangers moved Holland in front of him in the rotation, which also helped Texas line up the pitching staff for the postseason.