Alex Rios went two-for-three with an RBI triple in his Rangers debut, and scored the winning run as Texas came away comeback win no. 36 on the season in Houston Saturday night.
Elvis Andrus was an unlikely candidate to hit the game-tying, two-run home run in the seventh inning, but delivered just that. Andrus had gone 557 at-bats without a four-bagger, dating back to Sept. 4 of 2012.
After a Houston run crossed home on a wild pitch by Jason Frasor in the bottom half of the seventh, Rios came to the plate with a runner in scoring position in the eighth.
And the newest Ranger came through.
He hit a line shot to center field that bounced several feet in front of a diving Brandon Barnes and went rolling toward Tal’s Hill, and Rios scampered around to third base.
Rios scored what would be the game-winner on a Mitch Moreland chopper to second base. The throw home popped out of Jason Castro’s mitt at the plate on Rios’s slide, and the Rangers had the lead for good.
Derek Holland tossed six innings Saturday night, surrendering three runs on six hits, and striking out six Astros. The start was Holland’s eighth quality start in nine outings.
Jose Altuve launched the first pitch he saw from Holland to the hill in center field to bring in L.J. Hoes and break a scoreless tie in the third.
Chris Carter added a mammoth home run to left in the fourth inning, giving the 26-year-old his twentieth home run of the season and first multi-hit game since July 3.
The third Astro run came home on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. That was the only run surrendered by Holland in the sixth despite working into a bases-loaded, no-out jam.
A double-play ground ball off the bat of Brett Wallace got Holland out of the inning.
For Texas, the first five innings at the plate were clouded by wasted opportunities.
The Rangers squandered a second-and-third, one-out chance in the third inning when Elvis Andrus struck out and Ian Kinsler popped out to first base to end the threat.
The fourth inning brought another opportunity with less than two outs, but a Jurickson Profar strikeout and a David Murphy fly-out with the bases loaded once again sent a scoring chance by the wayside.
A.J. Pierzynski put the first Ranger run on the board with a moon shot deep into the second deck in right field in the sixth inning.
Jason Frasor pitched the seventh inning in relief of Holland and surrendered the fourth Houston run on the aforementioned wild pitch, but forced a groundout with runners on second and third to get out of the inning.
Joakim Soria dealt a scoreless eighth inning before Joe Nathan earned his thirty-fourth save of the season, working around a one-out walk.
The Rangers gained sole possession of first place in the division for the first time since the beginning of July.
Saturday’s win moves the Rangers’ record to a season-high 17 games over .500 (67-50) and gives them a six-game winning streak.
The third of four games with the Astros will be played Sunday afternoon in a 1 p.m. first pitch.