The Astros are already halfway to their win total against the Rangers from last year. After dropping 15 of 19 the previous season to their cross-state rivals, Houston came back again in the late innings then held on for an 8-7 victory, their third straight, to remian firmly atop the AL West.
Gonzalez: Reunion at the plate
(c) Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle
The boys from Arlington were having their way with Mike Fiers who allowed four homers and five runs over the first four innings. He's raised his ERA to 5.68 and it's possible the front office will find someone new for the rotation if Fiers doesn't make a correction.
Jose Altuve started the comeback with a two-run opposite-field blast against Alex Claudio who was making an emergency start for Cole Hamels after the lefty ace tweaked an oblique muscle during warm-ups. Marwin Gonzalez followed in the fifth with a homer that sailed over the center field fence to cut the deficit to two.
That's where it stayed until the bottom of the eighth when Keone Kela became the sixth Arlington pitcher. Ex-Ranger Carlos Beltran started the uprising with a double to left-center. Altuve walked and, one out later, Evan Gattis singled to move the runners up 90 feet.
Kela was one out away from escaping the jam when Gonzalez launched a high fly to right that stayed just fair and into the stands for a grand slam that gave Houston a sudden 7-5 lead. Gonzalez, playing just part-time, now has seven homers to tie for the team lead and has driven home 17 in the early going. Springer, his teammate in the seven-bomb squad, spanked the third consecutive single against reliever Jeremy Jeffress to add an insurance run for an 8-5 advantage.
The Rangers kept it interesting with two runs off Luke Gregerson in the ninth. Michael Feliz walked the tying run aboard before Will Harris entered and iced down the 8-7 game for his first save this season.
Beltran finished the night with three hits to push himself back up to a .250 batting average. Houston leads the majors with a dozen come-from-behind victories.
Assured of a series split, the Astros will send Charlie Morton (2-2) to the rubber Wednesday evening in a third-straight 7:10 Central grudge match. The Rangers counter with Nick Martinez (0-0), a righthander from Miami who brings a 2.77 ERA into action.
- Bob Hulsey