ARLINGTON -- Not even Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel could put a stop to the Astros' woes at Globe Life Park. Ian Desmond launched a two-out, three-run home run in the first inning off Keuchel to send the Rangers on their way to their fourth consecutive win, 7-4, over the Astros on Thursday night.
In sweeping the three-game series, the Rangers have won 11 of their last 13 against the Astros, including 10 in a row in Arlington.
"That was probably the best I felt out of my four starts," Keuchel said. "I thought I was rolling early. Two bad pitches, both to Desmond. He put some good swings on them his first two-bats. I felt like it was there -- bleeders, some singles, couple of doubles. Everything they did it was just like magic for them."
Rangers starter A.J. Griffin (2-0) held the Astros to two runs and four hits in six innings to improve to 4-0 lifetime against Houston. Adrian Beltre had three hits for the Rangers, including a leadoff homer in the seventh off reliever Pat Neshek. Colby Rasmus homered twice for Houston, including a two-run shot in the eighth to cut the lead to 7-4.
"He looked pretty fresh," said Rangers manager Jeff Banister of Griffin, who was working on seven days' rest. "Little more extension, a little more life on the fastball, cutter had a little more bite to it. That slow breaking ball, you never know when he's going to throw it and he drops it in there. It keeps hitters [out of] rhythm."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED No problem: Griffin limited Houston's big-inning prospects after giving up consecutive doubles to Jose Altuve and George Springer to start the game. A one-out walk to Rasmus put runners on first and second. But Griffin retired Tyler White by flyout and Preston Tucker on a meek groundout to get out of the inning.
"I just missed with location a little bit," Griffin said. "I was trying to throw a couple of fastballs in there that didn't get in enough. It was a lack of pitch execution. I knew I had to do a better job of getting fastballs inside." More >
Road woes continue: Keuchel, who was the last Astros pitcher to win in Arlington more than a year ago (April 12, 2015), allowed a career-high 13 hits and tied a season high with six runs allowed in six innings. He's 6-10 in his last 18 road regular-season starts, and he fell to 1-3 lifetime at Globe Life Park with a 6.75 ERA.
"He ran into a little bit of hard luck today with some seeing-eye hits," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's hard on himself, he expects perfection. We look to him to come out and lead this staff, and any time he doesn't throw six or seven scoreless there's a curiosity as to why, and it's because the league's tough. The league makes adjustments. This team across the way has seen him a few times and seen him a little bit."
Patient payoff: Keuchel retired the first two batters he faced in three pitches, but Beltre, the next hitter, looked at four pitches before lining a two-out single to center, jump-starting a three-run Texas first.
Colby's jacks not enough: Rasmus blasted a pair of home runs, giving him five for the season to tie Altuve and White for the team lead. He hit a solo shot in the fourth and walloped a two-run homer in the eighth and has reached base in 15 of 16 games this year.
"Yeah, I'd say I feel pretty good," Rasmus said. "I want to try to continue that." More >
"I'd say pretty surprised. I definitely didn't see this coming, but it's something we have to continue to work through and try to build on our approaches and what we're trying to do every day to continue to try to get better." -- Rasmus on his team's 5-11 start.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Astros have homered in 14 of their 16 games this year.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh (1-2, 6.39 ERA) takes the mound for Friday's 7:10 p.m. CT series opener against the Red Sox at Minute Maid Park. He's 31-18 with a 4.39 ERA in 60 starts since joining the Astros.
Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez will be looking to crack into the win column Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. He is only the second pitcher in franchise history to open the season winless despite at least three consecutive quality starts.