Hamels leads Rangers to sweep of Astros

Hamels leads Rangers to sweep of Astros

HOUSTON -- Cole Hamels tied a club record by winning his 12th straight decision as the Rangers completed a three-game sweep of the Astros with a 9-2 victory on Sunday afternoon.

Hamels allowed two runs in eight innings to tie the record set by Bobby Witt in 1990. The streak stretches over 19 starts with two no-decisions, and the Rangers are 17-2 in that stretch.

"When we play a team in our division, we have to win and want to win," Hamels said. "That's how we separate ourselves in this race. To be able to come in here against this team and do what we've done, it puts us back in that mindset."

Hamels credits offense for record-tying 12-0 run

Hamels fans 11 in eight innings

The Rangers beat Dallas Keuchel, who allowed seven runs in six innings. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner is now 0-5 with a 7.78 ERA in his last seven starts.

This is the second straight three-game sweep by the Rangers against the Astros this season. They took three in Arlington on April 19-21 and have won 19 of their last 25 in the rivalry series.

"They've just beat the [heck] out of us," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "They've come into our ballpark, into their ballpark, and just beat us. … Yeah, I'm tired of losing to them."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hit by pitch starts rally: Keuchel began the game by retiring the first six hitters and then got ahead 0-2 on Ryan Rua to start the third. But Keuchel hit him in the foot with an 0-2 slider, and that's how it all started. Bobby Wilson followed with an RBI double and scored on a two-out single by Ian Desmond. After Prince Fielder walked, Adrian Beltre hit a two-run double and Nomar Mazara's single knocked in Beltre.

"Any way to get on base," Rua said. "Down 0-2, got to find a way. We've got guys at the top of the lineup who can knock us in, so it's our job to get on base."

Mazara's RBI single

Mazara stands out: Mazara played eight innings in left field for the Rangers in his second start there. He was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and also made a nice play in the field. He brought the seventh inning to an end by running down and making a lunging catch of Jose Altuve's sharp line drive. Mazara shifted to right field in the ninth, as Drew Stubbs was pulled with a sprained left big toe.

"A really nice catch," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "It's a little challenging, seeing the ball here. First time in the stadium, roof, day game … a really nice catch on a diving play."

Mazara's brilliant catch

Keuchel struggles again: Regression is one thing, but Keuchel's 2016 is officially beyond that. His struggles to back up a 2015 AL Cy Young Award continued, and it's no surprise the Rangers were behind it. They hammered the lefty's flat changeups in that key third inning and exerted more dominance over both him and the Astros. Keuchel is now 1-3 with an 8.75 ERA (23 ER/23 2/3 innings) while allowing 35 hits in his last four starts against Texas. Sunday was just Keuchel's second loss in Minute Maid Park since August 2014. More >

"Just not making pitches with two outs," Keuchel said. "It's very frustrating because I feel like I had some good stuff today, and it showed early. … If I show up on a few pitches here and there, it's a totally different ballgame. It just seems like that's the way it's going right now."

Keuchel flashes the leather

Gattis gets going: Evan Gattis has been hammering the ball since returning to the Astros' lineup from a Minor League stint to work on his catching skills. He ripped Hamels' 1-1 offering high above the left-center-field wall, projected by Statcast™ to land 414 feet away from home plate. The slugger has three home runs in his past six games, recording hits in five of them.

Gattis' solo homer to left

QUOTABLE
"That's a good ballclub. They've got some outstanding players. We know it's a matter of time before they put a run together. Any team in the league is tough, but in our division, in our state, with all the fans … we've played well against them." -- Banister, on sweeping the Astros

Hamels on his performance

"It's a tough league. We've got to toughen up a little bit about those circumstances, whether it's a tough call or a line-drive out. They give us 27 outs, we have to maximize them and overcome some of the negative vibe that can be created with being held scoreless or not getting enough hits." -- Hinch, on his team's hard-luck hitting

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Rangers have had 10 innings of five runs or more this season, the most in the Major Leagues.

STUBBS INJURED
Stubbs left the game in the ninth inning with a sprained left big toe. He injured the toe in the top of the ninth while rounding second base on Ian Desmond's single. He was thrown out by George Springer from right field.

Springer's heads-up play

WHAT'S NEXT
Rangers: The Rangers open a six-game homestand when they play the Angels at 7:05 p.m. CT on Monday at Globe Life Park. The Rangers, who are 4-3 against the Angels this season, will give the ball to Derek Holland in the opener.

Astros: The Astros have an off-day Monday before hosting the Orioles in a three-game midweek series, starting with Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. CT tilt at Minute Maid Park. Houston will run out hurler Doug Fister, trying to reverse a four-game losing streak. The veteran righty has lasted at least six innings in each of his last six starts, posting a 3.29 ERA in that stretch.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston. He covered the Astros on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.