HOUSTON -- The Astros, flexing their power bats, slowed down the Rangers' march to the American League West title with a 9-7 victory on Saturday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. The win snapped the Astros' eight-game losing streak to the Rangers, who now lead the division by 3 1/2 games.
The Astros set a season high by hitting six home runs, including two each by shortstop Carlos Correa and second baseman Jose Altuve, as they were able to overcome the Rangers' 4-1 lead after 2 1/2 innings. Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus also went deep to give the Astros 216 home runs on the season, the second most in the AL. The six home runs were one short of the franchise record set on Sept. 9, 2000.
"Our quick-strike offense is always there, and certainly it was nice to have multiple guys throughout the order [contribute]," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "I just think our guys really, really have hung in there. We have a chance to win the series tomorrow, which is a big deal and certainly needed every run today given how Texas never quits."
Rangers starter Derek Holland gave up three of the home runs as he allowed four runs in five innings. But reliever Chi Chi Gonzalez took the loss as he allowed the home run to Carter that gave the Astros a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning. The Rangers trailed, 9-4, going into the ninth before putting on a dramatic two-out rally that came up just short.
"We were full of energy and full of life," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "A lot of confidence. They believe the game isn't over until the 27th out is made."
Collin McHugh earned the win despite allowing three runs in the first inning. He ended up going 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk. The Astros still hold a slight edge over the Angels and the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Correa crushes records: A day after recording the first three-strikeout game of his career and inadvertently knocking Altuve -- his best friend -- out of the game, Correa launched two massive home runs in his first two at-bats and tied his career high with three hits, adding a sharp single in the fifth. Correa's 21 homers tied Lance Berkman's franchise record for homers by an Astros rookie. They're also the most hit by an Astros shortstop in a single season, breaking Dickie Thon's 1983 mark. More >
"Today I got here and swung a lot in the cage," Correa said. "Made a lot of adjustments. Yesterday, obviously I didn't feel good and I struck out three times. It happens. It's baseball. You've got be able to go the next day and bounce back and do something to help the team. I went to the plate in my first at-bat with a lot of confidence like I hit three homers the day before."
"I had the same plan I have every time I go up there," Moreland said. "Get a good pitch to hit and put the barrel on it. That was a fun game. We just came out on the wrong end."
Sipp stifles Prince: Brought in to face the Rangers' red-hot lefty duo of Choo and Fielder with a runner on first and two outs, Astros reliever Tony Sipp slammed the door on a potential seventh-inning threat as the Astros clung to a 5-4 lead. After losing Choo on a full count pitch to put two on, Sipp got Fielder swinging on three pitches, eliciting a huge fist pump as he sprinted to the dugout. Fielder is now 0-for-8 with three strikeouts against Sipp. More >
"I knew my job was done after that," Sipp said. "To keep that lead for Collin, he pitched a great game and I definitely didn't want to be the reason he didn't get a win for it. Just having that relief afterward, it brought a lot of emotions. It felt good to do a job and have it over with."
Holland gets scare: Holland's second pitch of the game was a fastball that Altuve ripped back up the middle. The line drive smacked off the southpaw's fingers on his left hand and deflected to second baseman Rougned Odor. The Rangers were able to get the out at first, and Holland was able to stay in the game after a few minutes of letting the impact of the blow subside. More >
"I need to hit him every single day so he hits homers the next day." -- Correa, on his collision with Altuve on Friday and the success the two had on Saturday
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Holland nicked Jake Marisnick with a pitch with one out in the fourth inning and Marisnick was awarded first base. The Rangers challenged the call, and it stood after review. But, with Altuve at the plate, Holland proceeded to pick off Marisnick at first.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches against the Astros at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Perez is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against the Astros this season. He is 2-2 with a 5.08 ERA in his last five starts.
Astros: Ace Dallas Keuchel, 14-0 at Minute Maid Park this season, will try to cap a remarkable home season and become the first pitcher in Major League history to go 15-0 in his home stadium. He has a 1.47 ERA at home, but had a disastrous outing against the Rangers two weeks ago, surrendering 11 hits and nine earned runs in just 4 2/3 innings of work in a 14-3 loss at Globe Life Park.