Astros put thrilling final touch on spirited rally

Astros put thrilling final touch on spirited rally

Astros put thrilling final touch on spirited rally
HOUSTON -- Astros closer Brett Myers ran down Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, planted his glove on his foot for the final out and did a nosedive on the infield dirt. It was only fitting that the Astros' most electrifying, improbable and entertaining win of the season ended on such a dramatic play.

With a playoff-like sellout crowd rocking Minute Maid Park and a national television audience getting its first look at the rebuilding Astros, a scrappy Houston team rallied from a season-high four-run deficit and clubbed three homers to beat the mighty Rangers, 6-5, before 42,673 fans on Saturday night.

It wasn't until Myers got Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton to hit into a game-ending 3-6-1 double play, which was capped by Myers tagging out Andrus in a rundown near second base, that the Astros were able to fully enjoy what had been a tension-filled nine innings of playoff-like baseball.

"It's a great ballgame all around, start to finish," Astros catcher Chris Snyder said. "We battled, we fought and clawed and even had Myers tackling a guy to end the game. That's grinding right there."

The Astros fell behind, 4-0, against Rangers starter Derek Holland in the third inning before roaring back on the strength of homers by Snyder, Carlos Lee and Justin Maxwell, whose two-run shot in the fifth put Houston ahead, 5-4.

"We've been scrapping like that all year, regardless of the score, if we get behind early," Maxwell said. "Guys put together good at-bats to get us back in the ballgame and our pitchers did a really good job of holding down a potent offense to five runs."

Houston's bullpen pieced together 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Lucas Harrell (3-3), with the outcome of the game hanging on every out, every pitch. No reliever came up bigger than Brandon Lyon, who recorded three consecutive outs after entering in the eighth with runners at first and second and no outs.

"Any time you can get in those situations, the adrenaline is flowing with the atmosphere," Lyon said. "It was great to get out there and get the win with this team. This team battled and it was such a team effort. I think everybody battled and got the job done."

Myers, who had a blown save and a loss in his previous two outings, allowed a one-out single to Andrus in the ninth, bringing Hamilton to the plate. With the crowd chanting for both sides, Myers got Hamilton to hit a grounder to first base, where Lee stepped on the bag for an out.

Lee threw to shortstop Jed Lowrie, and Andrus was caught. Andrus ran back toward first before Myers got the ball, turning him back toward second. Myers ran after him and reached out and tagged Andrus just as he dived back into the base.

"I didn't think I was going to get him, but I was just watching his eyes," Myers said. "He pump-faked me a little bit and came back towards me. I looked at Jed and just had to go for it, I guess. Instincts just happened. It could have been a bad play."

The Rangers scored four runs after two outs in the third, three of which were unearned because of a fielding error on Lowrie, to put Harrell in a 4-0 hole. The big blow was a three-run, inside-the-park home by David Murphy after the error. Harrell got the win by holding Texas to five hits and one earned run in 5 2/3 innings with an effective sinker that produced a high numbers of swings and misses.

"This team fights," Harrell said. "I've said it all year. We don't quit and there's a lot of fight in us, and we've got a young guys that are hungry and we want to win."

Snyder began the Astros' comeback with a leadoff homer to left field in the third, and Lee made Holland pay for walking Maxwell to start the fourth by hitting a two-run homer to left to cut the lead to 4-3.

"We were down, 4-0, in the third, and that's what I was saying in the dugout -- there's a lot of ballgame left," Snyder said. "I got the ball rolling, but after there were two more big homers and [Travis] Buck's pinch-hit was huge and pushed an extra run across and made a big difference."

In the fifth, Jose Altuve stroked a two-out single to right field, and Maxwell crushed an 0-1 pitch from Holland and sent it well over the wall in left-center to put the Astros ahead, 5-4. Buck added a key pinch-hit RBI double in the sixth.

"That ball Maxwell hit was a bomb," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They earned every run they scored tonight."

Beating the Rangers in an electric atmosphere and in dramatic fashion was nothing short of gratifying for the Astros, who had lost 15 of the previous 19 games to their in-state rivals.

"It was pretty exciting," Maxwell said. "There was a lot of people here tonight. Hopefully, we'll have the same amount of people here tomorrow. I know it's Sunday and everybody goes to church here in the south, but it was a lot of fun playing here tonight."

Brian McTaggart is reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.