This land is Moreland: Texas overtakes Astros in West

This land is Moreland: Texas overtakes Astros in West

ARLINGTON -- Mitch Moreland hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Rangers a dramatic 6-5 victory over the Astros on Tuesday night and enable Texas to jump a half-game over Houston and into first place in the American League West.

Prince Fielder led off the ninth with a single off Astros reliever Oliver Perez. Drew Stubbs pinch-ran for Fielder, and right-hander Will Harris took over, the seventh reliever used by the Astros.

"It's very exciting. We have worked our tails off to get here," said Texas starter Derek Holland. "Tonight we hung in there and did what we had to do and capitalized when we needed it most."

Rangers winning with grit, attitude and pure joy

Harris threw one pitch to Adrian Beltre, who lifted a single into center that moved Stubbs to third. That brought up Moreland, who hit a relatively shallow fly ball to center. Stubbs broke for home and scored standing when the throw from Colby Rasmus was off target.

"Harris is a tough pitcher, and I was wanting to get something over the plate to get to the outfield," Moreland said. "Luckily, we had Stubbs at third base, so I didn't have to get it too deep."

Moreland gets early shower

The Astros fell to 2-6 on their road trip and are 4-9 in September, including four one-run losses. They lead the Twins by 1 1/2 games for the first AL Wild Card spot.

"We've played some close games, and one-run losses or two-run losses are tough, especially this time of year," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "There's a lot of attention, a lot of 'want' factor. Our guys are pushing. We're in it. We're having a hard time getting to the finish line on the right side of these on a couple of occasions. We'll pick ourselves up. We've got some games left; we've got some work today, and we need better outcomes."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rangers strike back: The Rangers lost their four-run lead after the Astros scored three in the second, and then Texas fell behind, 5-4, in the fourth on a two-run single by Evan Gattis. But the Rangers struck back in the bottom of the inning on a two-out single by Fielder and a double by Beltre that tied the score.

Beltre's RBI single

Gattis comes through in clutch: The Astros scratched and clawed their way back from a four-run deficit in the first inning, scoring three times in the second to get within a run. They rallied to take a temporary lead in the fourth, when Gattis lofted a two-run, two-out single with the bases loaded over the glove of shortstop Elvis Andrus to make it 5-4.

Rangers' bullpen picks up Holland: Holland allowed five runs on 10 hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings. The bullpen combination of Ross Ohlendorf, Sam Freeman, Sam Dyson and Shawn Tolleson picked him up by pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing just one walk.

"We felt great about it," Tolleson said. "Any time you can keep them from scoring, it's always fun for everyone, but this was a little more exciting than your average win. It was really fun."

McHugh struggles: The Astros' Collin McHugh, who had won his previous four starts, was rocked for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, including four in the first. He didn't factor into the decision after the Astros were forced to use seven relievers.

"We were a little shocked at the first inning," Hinch said. "They came out and punched us right in the face. Again, they didn't hit the ball that hard, but they tacked on a couple of base hits in a row. We responded, which I was proud of, and [McHugh] responded and gave us what he could." More >

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Hinch unsuccessfully challenged a foul call down the left-field line on a ball hit by Hank Conger in the fourth. Conger doubled to right-center on the next pitch.

Conger's foul ball stands

QUOTABLE
"We've got another tough ballgame tomorrow. The ballclub in the other clubhouse, they are a good ballclub. They haven't been in first place all year because of a fluke." -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister

"We'll be ready to play. Our world's not coming to an end." -- Hinch

WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: Ace lefty Dallas Keuchel will get the call for Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. CT game at Globe Life Park. The three-time AL Pitcher of the Month leads the league in ERA (2.22), innings pitched (career-high 206 2/3) and WAR (7.1). He's 13-0 at home, but on the road he's 4-7 with a 3.13 ERA, including a win at Texas in April.

Rangers: Martin Perez will try to snap a two-game losing streak when he pitches against the Astros at 7:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday in his 11th start since returning from Tommy John surgery. He is 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA.

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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.