MLB

Astros-Rangers Preview

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Houston Astros are actually looking at a winning streak against the Texas Rangers.

Houston snapped a string off eight straight losses to their in-state rivals and look to get split in the finale of a four-game series Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Park.

The Astros (29-32) picked up their first win over Texas in 2016 by prevailing 3-1 Wednesday night. Jose Altuve's two-run double in the seventh broke a 1-1 tie.

"These games here, they're crazy," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Obviously, we know it can be done now in this ballpark, so it's a good win for us. A lot of guys did well, from the first hitter all the way to Will Harris at the end closing the door. It was a good team win. A lot of guys did a lot of good things."

The Astros are 12-4 since May 23 as they continue to make up ground after a terrible start to the season.

Despite the loss snapping a five-game winning streak, the Rangers are leading the American League West at 36-23. That record is tied for the best in club history after 59 games.

Texas is still 11-3 in its past 14 games. The three games prior to Wednesday's loss were each one-run victories.

"Any time you win tough games, it breeds confidence," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Probably not as much confidence, though, as when you win by seven or eight, but there's a certain toughness or grit that you develop."

Texas would set a new club record with 10 consecutive home series wins should the Rangers take the last of the four-game set.

"They have a good team," Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "You've just got to continue to battle against them."

The Rangers are sending Martin Perez (4-4, 3.24 ERA) to the mound Thursday. The 25-year-old lefty has quality starts in three consecutive starts and five of his last six outings. Perez is 4-2 with a 1.71 ERA in six career starts against Houston.

Houston counters with right-hander Collin McHugh, who is making his first start of the season against Texas. McHugh (5-4, 4.97 ERA) is 4-0 in his career against Texas. His 31 wins since Aug. 1, 2014 are tied for fourth in the majors.

The Rangers will have infielder Jurickson Profar back in the starting lineup for the finale. Profar, who was taking ground balls at third base Wednesday afternoon, is starting there for Adrian Beltre.

The club's everyday third baseman left Wednesday night's game in the eighth inning with tightness in his left hamstring. Profar came in for Beltre, who was scheduled to be off Thursday.

Beltre wasn't the only concern for Texas, as starter Yu Darvish left after the fifth with shoulder tightness. The initial exam didn't reveal any issues, but Darvish will be reevaluated.

Profar has kept himself in the lineup thanks to his red-hot bat, especially with Moreland and Prince Fielder slumping. Profar, batting .380 with an 11-game hitting streak, has played second, first, designated hitter and now third since being called up.

Wednesday also marked the one-year anniversary of Carlos Correa's major league debut. Houston's 21-year-old shortstop, currently hitting .254, had 30 homers and 100 RBIs in his first full year with the Astros.

"The expectations have been sky high, so it's hard for anybody in his shoes to live up to them or exceed them," Hinch said. "But he's been remarkable in his year in the big leagues. He's done things that we take for granted now."

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