Gallardo continues mastery of Astros in Rangers' win
By Brian McTaggart and Dave Sessions
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers took advantage of a costly fielding error by Astros first baseman Chris Carter with two outs in the fifth inning Saturday night to score three runs, capped by a two-run single by Elvis Andrus, to win, 6-2, at Globe Life Park.
Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo made his Arlington debut and held the Astros to eight hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings to win for the 14th time in 18 career decisions against Houston. He gave up a homer to Marwin Gonzalez in the third and wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam later in the inning.
"We got what we expected out of Yo tonight," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He definitely had the slider in play tonight, really, the slider was his pitch. He was capable of throwing his fastball for a strike to set up the slider. We got it to a point where we felt we needed him pitch count-wise in his second start. He did a nice job for us tonight."
The Astros stranded the bases loaded in the third inning when Gallardo struck out Carter, and they pushed a run across in the sixth when Jose Altuve drew a bases-loaded walk off Jon Edwards. Rangers reliever Phil Klein promptly got George Springer to hit into a fielder's choice to strand the bases loaded again.
"We made a few mistakes tonight," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We didn't get the big hit to sort of get us back into it. Had plenty of opportunities. I think we left 11, 12 runners on. We didn't have a chance to really get back to even after we gave them a few runs."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Beltre goes all the way: Two outs into the first inning, Adrian Beltre scored the Rangers' first run all by himself when he ripped a triple down the right-field corner and scored on an error by Gonzalez. Beltre stretched the hit into a triple, taking advantage of Springer's mishandling of the carom in the corner in right field. Then, by rounding third a few steps instead of staying close to the bag, Beltre goaded Gonzalez into a hurried, errant throw that allowed Beltre to race down the line and score.
"He rounded third quite a ways, the pitcher was kind of calling for the ball, they made a throw across the diamond and he did a nice job of getting back to third base and blocking the pitcher out of the way," Banister said of Beltre. "Not a good play for them, but a good play for us."
Carter's error costly: Astros lefty reliever Joe Thatcher came on with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth inning and got Rangers designated hitter Mitch Moreland to hit a comebacker to the mound. Thatcher fielded the ball between his legs and fired sidearm to first base to Carter, who dropped the throw to allow a run to score. Andrus followed with a two-run single to cap a three-run inning, giving the Rangers control of the game, 5-1.
"We didn't finish plays that we normally do," Hinch said. "I was a little surprised by that. It happens and it's certainly nothing you want to happen, expect to happen. We've been playing pretty clean baseball." More >
Gallardo gets out of trouble: Gallardo cruised through the first two innings, but had to work his way out of significant jams in the third and fourth innings. In the third, he allowed a solo homer to Gonzalez, then allowed back-to-back singles to Altuve and Springer and walked Jed Lowrie to load the bases with two outs. But Gallardo struck out Carter -- whom he ultimately fanned three times in the game -- to end that threat. In the fourth, Gallardo allowed consecutive singles to Jason Castro and Colby Rasmus with one out, but Gallardo got Gonzalez to ground out and Jake Marisnick to pop up to get out of the inning unscathed. More >
Clutch hits elude Astros: The Astros, who entered Saturday's game 2-for-21 on the season with runners in scoring position, couldn't come up with the clutch hits against the Rangers. They had the bases loaded in the third and saw the rally fizzle when Carter struck out, and they loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth and scored one run on a bases-loaded walk by Altuve.
"We just didn't really get anything on the ground, in the outfield to really keep innings alive when we needed it the most," Hinch said. More >
"Look, we made those plays 99 times of 100. The one time out of 100 is a killer." -- Hinch on Carter's dropped throw at first base, which led to three runs in the fifth inning.
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Gallardo is 14-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 18 career starts against the Astros. That's his most wins against any opponent.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: The rotation turns over with Opening Day starter Dallas Keuchel getting the ball against the Rangers in Sunday's series finale, scheduled to 2:05 p.m. CT at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Keuchel threw seven scoreless innings to beat the Indians on Monday and has thrown at least seven innings in of his last 12 starts dating to last season.
Rangers:Colby Lewis will take the mound in the finale of the Rangers' three-game series with Houston. Lewis is 5-1 with a 1.54 ERA in 52 2/3 career innings against the Astros.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.