ARLINGTON -- It started with a walk, then a single, then another single.
Before you knew it, the Rangers had put up six runs and knocked Astros starter Lance McCullers out of the game in the first inning. And there was more to come en route to Monday's 12-9 win in the opener of a three-game series.
The Rangers have now won five of six, and somewhat like that first inning, small steps are adding up. The Rangers are only two games behind the second Wild Card spot in the American League.
"The whole game we kept giving each other rib shots," manager Jeff Banister said. "We know they are swinging the bats well. They've got some dynamic players in their lineup. It's good to get that first one under our belt and be ready to move forward tomorrow."
The Rangers had 15 hits and scored 12 or more runs for the third time this season. They followed their big first inning with a five-run third, making for only the second time in the past five seasons they have had two innings of five-plus runs in a game.
"I don't know if anything got into [the bats]," Moreland said. "We just went up there and tried to string together a few hits. It was good for us to set the pace and be able to control the momentum."
It was especially good considering starting pitcher Colby Lewis wasn't at his best. Lewis allowed seven runs over the first four innings, but the run support allowed him to save the bullpen and stay in the game through six. He became the first Texas starter to win when allowing at least seven runs since Derek Holland in 2012.
"They go out and score you 12, it's really easy for you to throw fastballs down and away and get quick outs and get quick innings," Lewis said.
And though the season is far from over, the Rangers improved to 6-4 against the Astros this season and set the tone in what is an important series as Texas looks to remain competitive.
"When you're playing in the division, you want to beat these guys," Beltre said. "They are playing well. We have played them well the whole year, and we want to win the series. It would be nice to cut into the deficit."
Cody Stavenhagen is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.