Texas is 8-0 vs. Houston this season, winning 12 straight in Arlington
By Brian McTaggart and Ryan Posner
ARLINGTON -- Ian Desmond launched a two-run home run off Dallas Keuchel to break an eighth-inning tie and send the Rangers to their ninth win in their last 10 games, 4-3, over the Astros on Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.
"He's been there before in those situations. They're not new to him," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Desmond. "He's got a lot to prove in his mind, and that makes him a dangerous player. We're lucky to have him. He's come up with some huge home runs, big hits, up and down the game."
Keuchel (3-8) entered the eighth inning of a tie game with 101 pitches and gave up a one-out single by Jurickson Profar before Desmond homered to center field. The Rangers improved to 8-0 against the Astros this year and have won 16 of the last 18 meetings between the teams, including 12 in a row in Arlington.
"I think any loss is [tough to swallow], but these are close games," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Small margins for error. Obviously, we had plenty of opportunity. We had five runners to lead off innings get on base and only one scored. We had a couple of first-and-thirds with one out and didn't get anything out of it. So in a one-run game, some of these things are going to be glaring."
Rangers starter Cole Hamels didn't factor into the decision after allowing two runs and four hits in seven innings. The only runs he allowed came in the second on a two-run homer by Carlos Gomez, but the Rangers tied the game in the fifth when Bobby Wilson hit a two-out solo homer.
"Any time you can get a hit off a Cy Young Award winner, it's going to feel good," Wilson said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Desmond comes up clutch: With the game tied, 2-2, Desmond hit a 1-0 changeup off Keuchel just out of the reach of Gomez in center field for his eighth homer of the season. It was Desmond's third go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later this season. Desmond has taken Keuchel deep twice this season at Globe Life Park, the other time coming on April 21.
"I just tell myself when I get up there for every at-bat, 'You're prepared,'" he said. "If you prepared for the situation, prepared for the at-bat, then the rest will take care of itself." More >
Dallas goes deep: It won't officially go down as a quality start for Keuchel, but he certainly pitched well enough to win. Coming off back-to-back quality starts for the first time this year, Keuchel had allowed only two runs going into the eighth before giving up the homer to Desmond. His eight losses this year tie his total from his 2015 Cy Young campaign.
"It's a bad feeling for me when I give up a lead and potentially see the game go out from my grasp," Keuchel said. "We squandered a lot of opportunities." More >
Dyson dances out of trouble: Dyson picked up his sixth straight save since being named closer, but it didn't come easy. Colby Rasmus led off the ninth with a double and scored two batters later on a pinch-hit single from Valbuena. Gomez, who had walked, moved to third on Valbuena's single. Rangers manager Jeff Banister then held a meeting with the entire infield on the mound to discuss the game plan. Following the meeting, Dyson struck out Kemp and Springer -- on a 97-mph fastball -- to close things out.
"Talking about handling the baseball, settle the situation down a little bit," Banister said of the meeting. "Wanted to make sure where we were throwing the ball if they decide to run. Just where we were at. Wanted to make sure we were clear on what we were going to do."
Double plays hurt Houston: The Astros hit into three double plays, none bigger than when speedster Jake Marisnick grounded into one to end the seventh inning with runners at first and third. Marisnick hit a foul bunt on the previous pitch in an attempt to drop a safety squeeze, and Hinch said the squeeze also was called on the pitch Marisnick hit into the double play but the sign was missed.
"You're trying to squeeze as many runs across as you can, and it was a bad time to not be able to execute a play that's really not defendable," Hinch said. "With him holding on first and first-and-third, any ball rolling on the ground is going to score the run. The game may change with the lead."
• The Rangers are 14-0 this season when hitting exactly two home runs.
FIRST-BASE DEBUT NO PROBLEM
Profar looked more than comfortable playing first base for the first time in his professional career. He made several impressive plays on the night, none more dazzling than a stretch to complete a double play in fourth. He went into a full-split to finish off a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Evan Gattis. Profar played error-free defense on the night before being replaced by Mitch Moreland in the ninth.
"It looked pretty athletic. Looked like a shortstop playing first base," Banister said. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Right-hander Doug Fister (5-3, 3.51 ERA), who has eight quality starts in his last nine outings, gets the start for the Astros when they face the Rangers at 7:10 p.m. CT Wednesday at Globe Life Park. He's given up three runs or fewer in 10 of his 11 starts.
Rangers: Right-hander Yu Darvish (2-0, 3.38) will face the Astros in his first start on regular rest since returning from Tommy John surgery. Darvish struck out five and allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Mariners on Friday.