The Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 3-0 to even their four-game series in Houston at one win each after Friday’s game at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros (25-15) entered the game as one of Major League Baseball’s hottest teams, with a 14-3 record since May 3. Houston won the first game of the series on Thursday thanks to a late offensive explosion.
The Rangers (18-20) were able to counter on Friday night with some offensive fireworks of their own in the eighth inning, but that was just insurance for starter Martín Pérez (3-2), who threw the first complete game of the season for the Rangers and just the fifth complete game of the season in the Majors.
Adolis Garcia and Kole Calhoun
Texas continue its own hot streak, as the Rangers have now won five of their last six games, dating back to their win over Boston last Sunday. Pérez started that game, too.
Texas also broke its 11-game losing streak to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth after Kole Calhoun’s homer off Cristian Javier, the only mistake the Astros starter made in his six innings. Javier gave up three hits, a run, a walk and struck out nine. The strikeouts tied a career high.
Calhoun had one of the Rangers’ two RBI of the game and continued his hot streak at the plate. He has now hit five home runs in his last six games.
While Pérez kept the Astros off-balance and went the distance, the Rangers tacked on two more runs in the top of the eighth.
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Mitch Garver singled to left, followed by a Nathaniel Lowe walk. Then Eli White’s bunt led to a throwing error by Houston reliever Rafael Montero, who tried to throw out Garver at third. The ball got away from Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, and Garver scored to make it 2-0.
After Brad Miller struck out, Marcus Semien singled to left to score Lowe to make it 3-0. But White also tried to score on the play and was tagged out at the plate.
The Astros had two men on and two out in the bottom of the night with Yuli Gurriel at the plate. But Pérez forced him to fly out to White on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
The Rangers defense played well, despite one error by Lowe on a tough ground ball by Michael Brantley in the fourth inning. The Rangers turned three double plays, one of which stranded a runner at third to end an inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Astros pinch-hitter Aledmys Díaz tried to stretch a single into a double and White threw him out from left field.
Pérez’s efficiency allowed him to go the distance, as he threw 108 pitches. He gave up seven hits and a walk while striking out five. Before the Gurriel at-bat, Rangers manager Chris Woodward came to the mound to talk to Pérez and stuck with him.
“No, No, he (Woodward) just asked me how I felt and I said, ‘I’m OK. I just need the ball and I can do the rest,’” Perez said.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard