"That was a good one … hard-fought," first baseman Mitch Moreland added after the Rangers took two of three games against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
"They battled, we battled," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "We came out on top, but it was a really good game."
The victory left the Rangers with a seven-game lead over the Mariners in the American League West and dropped the Astros to third place, 7 1/2 games behind. This is one the Rangers will probably remember if they end up winning the division. Texas had a 3-0 lead with six outs to go before Houston rallied against its bullpen to send it into extra innings.
This one easily could have slipped away from the Rangers and given the Astros a badly needed boost.
"They have a great team and don't give up," shortstop Jurickson Profar said. "Yeah, for us to get that win … it was huge."
The Rangers had several opportunities to break the game open, but they left the bases loaded in both the ninth and the 10th innings. They were 4-for-17 with runners in scoring position before they broke through in the 11th.
"I don't think 'frustrating' is the word," Moreland said. "We just kept creating opportunities, and the more you create, something is going to happen, and you're going to push one across. That's what we were able to do."
Choo created the 11th-inning opportunity with his double, and Ian Desmond drove him home with a single. Desmond had been in a 2-for-22 slump with runners in scoring position before delivering the game-winning hit.
"I feel good, and I feel confident in those situations," Desmond said. "I don't care what the numbers say, as long as I feel good and confident, that's all I care about. And I do."
"Odor did a great job putting the nail in the coffin," Desmond said. "There is nothing like a playoff game, but this was a well-played game, a fun game, high energy. It was good for us to win the game and win the series."
This one wasn't over until the last batter. The Astros launched one last rally with two outs in the bottom of the 11th. Matt Bush, after pitching a scoreless 10th, retired the first two hitters in the 11th but gave up a double to Jake Marisnick and an infield single off his glove to Tony Kemp.
That brought up George Springer, and Bush struck him out to end the game. He ended up being the winning pitcher after the Astros scored two off Jeremy Jeffress in the eighth and one off Sam Dyson in the ninth to send the game into extra innings.
"I would like for it not to get in that situation, but you just have to focus like I have been and make quality pitches," Bush said. "Two Texas teams going after it, you feel the energy."
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.