The Sports Xchange

By MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange

Rangers snap 7-game skid to Astros

HOUSTON -- Several of the little things that the Texas Rangers have failed to do well and with consistency this season were showcased on Sunday and, not surprisingly, the results were welcome and favorable.

The Rangers capitalized on a sloppy defensive effort by the Houston Astros and averted a series sweep with a 6-2 win at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros (49-69) were charged with only one error, but the Rangers (46-71) proved adept at taking advantage of every opportunity presented and ended their seven-game series losing streak to Houston.

"We work hard at that type of stuff, we just haven't been as consistent at it as we'd like to (be)," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of the alert baserunning. "There are games when we show that in our game. The key is to work to be more efficient at it."

Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel (10-8) uncorked a pair of wild pitches while his teammates surrendered extra bases with unsound decisions against the aggressive and asserting Rangers baserunners.

"They're just hacking and found some holes," Keuchel said. "I'm not going to change anything. We just got our butts whipped today."

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus advanced to third base on a Keuchel wild pitch in the fourth and scored with ease when right fielder Alex Rios followed with a double to left-center field. The Rangers pulled even at 2-apiece when Rios scored on an infield single from second baseman Adam Rosales, whose grounder kicked off the glove of shortstop Marwin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez recovered in time to deliver an accurate throw home from shallow left field, but Astros catcher Carlos Corporan was unable to hold onto the ball when Rios slid into his glove as he approached home plate.

Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos scored on a Keuchel wild pitch in the fifth with left fielder Daniel Robertson moving to third on that play. Robertson was in scoring position only because Astros right fielder Robbie Grossman needlessly threw home when Robertson singled even though Chirinos made no attempt to scamper home on the base hit.

Two batters later, Robertson scored on a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 4-2. The Rangers added a pair of solo home runs from third baseman Adrian Beltre, his 17th, in the sixth and Shin-Soo Choo, his 11th, in the seventh. Keuchel allowed five earned runs on six hits over six innings.

"We were aggressive," Andrus said. "We always emphasize, no matter the situation of the game or the situation of the season we've still got to go out there and perform well. So today was a good example of keep being aggressive and execute. I think today was a great game executing."

Rangers right-hander Nick Martinez (2-8) delivered a surprisingly effective start, limiting Houston to a pair of earned runs on five hits and two walks with a career-high six strikeouts over five innings. Martinez had surrendered 11 runs total over his last 10 2/3 innings and two starts in losses to the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox.

Martinez closed his outing with a flourish, striking out the side in the fifth after walking Gonzalez to open the inning and surrendering a ground-rule double to second baseman Jose Altuve. Martinez struck out left fielder Chris Carter and designated hitter Jason Castro to strand Gonzalez and Altuve in scoring position and preserve his two-run lead.

"It was tough today," Carter said. "Keuchel pitched his heart out, but he gave up a couple of runs late. We didn't score on opportunities we had in the game."

NOTES: Even with 2B Jose Altuve back in the lineup, Astros manager Bo Porter opted to bat RF Robbie Grossman in the leadoff spot on Sunday. Grossman leads Astros regulars in walk rate (16.2 percent) and has reached base in eight of nine plate appearances this weekend. ... Rangers RHP Derek Holland pitched three scoreless innings in his third rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Saturday night, allowing three hits while striking out four on 49 pitches. Holland has allowed four runs in six innings over three rehab starts for Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock. ... Astros OF George Springer remains in a holding pattern regarding his reinstatement from the 15-day disabled list. Springer felt discomfort in his left quad following a workout Saturday, and his status remains day-to-day.

-----------------------------------------------