HOUSTON -- The Rangers avoided getting swept for the first time ever at Minute Maid Park by closing out a four-game series with a 10-4 victory over the Astros on Thursday.
Rougned Odor's one-out home run sparked the Rangers' four-run rally in the first. The inning also included a two-out run-scoring single by Joey Gallo and a two-run double by Mike Napoli off of Astros starter Joe Musgrove (1-3), who was pulled after four innings. Gallo also had a big two-run home run in the eighth that helped the Rangers hold off their interstate rivals.
"I don't really buy into any of the narrative, 'Well, you're trying to avoid a sweep.' You're trying to go out and win a baseball game," said Rangers manager Jeff Banister, who moved Odor to the No. 2 hole in the lineup on Thursday. "He knows wherever we put him in the lineup, what his job is."
Astros outfielder Marwin Gonzalez went deep for the fourth straight game and fifth straight start, hitting his ninth home run of the season in the fourth. Gonzalez has six home runs in his last five starts, a streak broken up only by an 0-for-1 pinch-hitting appearance against Oakland on Saturday. The Astros collected 10 hits and Rangers pitching walked 10 batters, but the Astros stranded 16 runners.
"We're pretty good with runners in scoring position, and today we gave ourselves a lot of opportunities," said Houston manager A.J. Hinch on the Astros stranding 16 runners. "It's easy to say what if. How the game would have changed if we were able to come up with the big hit with the bases loaded."
Rangers starter A.J. Griffin (3-0), pitching for the first time since April 17, came off the disabled list to get the win, holding the Astros to two runs in five innings. Griffin allowed six hits, walked one and struck out seven. He is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his last three starts going back to before his trip to the D.L.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Balk proves costly: The Rangers started the fifth with a single by Elvis Andrus and a walk to Carlos Gomez, and they moved up to second and third on pitcher Brad Peacock's wild pitch. Peacock struck out Gallo but then balked in a run. Peacock, with Napoli at the plate, started into the stretch position and stopped. Napoli, with the infield in, hit a soft liner to second baseman Jose Altuve and Gomez inexplicably was doubled off running toward home on contact and never stopping.
Jeffress bails out bullpen: The Rangers led 6-2 going into the sixth but right-hander Tony Barnette gave up three straight hits to load the bases. Left-hander Dario Alvarez retired Carlos Beltran on a sacrifice fly to center and walked Josh Reddick to load the bases. Jeremy Jeffress came in to face Altuve and got him to hit a grounder at third baseman Gallo for an inning-ending double play.
"Very challenging for our bullpen today," Banister said. "Really behind most of the hitters. They got the outs when we needed, but our offense continued to put runs on the board. We know our bullpen is better than that."
Gomez bails out Jeffress: Jeffress ran into trouble in the seventh when the Astros loaded the bases with one and Gonzalez at the plate. Gonzalez smashed a line drive to center and Gomez made a terrific diving catch. The Astros got one run out of it but the rally died as Keone Kela struck out Betran to end the inning. The catch had just a 14 percent chance of being made according to Statcast™, giving it a five-star rating.
"Incredible play for Gomez. This guy's been able to play Gold Glove defense," Banister said. "We feel very comfortable with Gomez in the outfield. We know he gets great reads off the bat. The routes are good. Special play by him today. He plays deep and comes in very well too. He knows how to lay out for balls." More >
"Walking [Robinson] Chirinos twice, the No. 9 hitter, those are things that really can't happen. And I didn't really show [Hinch] that I was executing well enough to stay in the game." -- Astros starter Joe Musgrove, who was pulled after four innings
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With three home runs on Thursday, the Rangers have 43 on the season, second in the American League behind the Yankees. The Rangers have 12 homers in their last five games.
The Astros walked a season-high 10 times. The last time the Astros walked 10 times in a game was Aug. 20, 2016 at Baltimore. Their previous high was eight, accomplished twice.
Rangers: The Rangers open a three-game series with the Mariners at 9:10 p.m. CT Friday at Safeco Field. Yu Darvish will be looking for his first career win in Seattle. He is 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA in three career starts at Safeco.
Astros: Houston opens a three-game road series with the Angels at 9:07 p.m. CT. Friday's series opener matches LHP Dallas Keuchel, the AL Pitcher of the Month for April, against Angels center fielder Mike Trout, the AL Player of the Month for April. Keuchel is 10-2 all-time versus the Angels and Trout is a .368 career hitter off Keuchel.