ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Chris Gimenez hit what proved to be a deciding home run and the Texas Rangers held for a 4-3 win Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep of the AL West-leading Houston Astros.
After Texas scored three unearned runs in the first off Scott Kazmir (6-6), the Rangers’ second started with Gimenez homering to straightaway center for a 4-0 lead.
All three Houston runs were scored by players who reached on a walk.
The Rangers have won four in a row and seven of eight, moving within five games of the division lead, the closest they have been since June 30.
Texas starter Nick Martinez (7-6), the right-hander pitching on his 25th birthday, walked three and struck out one while throwing 86 pitches in a game which start with the temperature at 100 degrees.
Sam Dyson, the sixth Rangers pitcher, worked the ninth for his second career save — both since being acquired in a trade with Miami on Friday. Regular closer Shawn Tolleson, who has 20 saves, was unavailable after appearing in six of the previous seven games.
Kazmir, in his third start for Houston since a July 23 trade from Oakland, lowered his AL-best ERA from 2.10 to 2.08 since only one run against him was earned. The right-hander struck out five in his 5 2-3 innings.
He had thrown 14 2-3 scoreless innings in his first two starts for Houston, part of his five games in July while allowing one earned run over 34 innings (0.26 ERA). Earlier this season for the A’s, Kazmir gave up only three runs over 21 innings in three starts against the Rangers.
Delino DeShields reached to start the Texas first when Kazmir was unable to cleanly field the roller in front of the plate for an error. Ryan Strausborger, in his first major league at-bat, had a sacrifice bunt but reached on catch Hank Conger’s throwing error. Prince Fielder had a sac fly before consecutive RBI singles by Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus.
Houston was within 4-3 after five consecutive batters reached with one out in the sixth against two relievers.
Carlos Correa and Jed Lowrie drew consecutive walks before Evan Gattis’ RBI single. Sam Freeman, after replacing Phil Klein, walked the first two batters he faced, including Conger with the bases loaded.
Carlos Gomez had a leadoff walk in the fourth and scored on a double by Lowrie, the first and only hit the Astros had off Martinez.
Astros: OF Preston Tucker is day to day with a bruised triceps muscle after getting hit by a pitch in Tuesday night’s game.
Rangers: LHP Derek Holland, out since a shoulder strain in the April 10 home opener, says he “feels very good” after 55 pitches in his latest rehab start Tuesday night. He’s expected to next start Sunday for Double-A Frisco.
Astros: Scott Feldman (4-5) starts Thursday when Houston starts a four-game series at Oakland, the second of three consecutive road series.
Rangers: After a day off Thursday, the Rangers open a weekend series Friday at Seattle with LHP Cole Hamels making his second start for Texas since his trade from Philadelphia.