Last year, Carlos Beltran spent a couple of months playing for the Rangers and helped them to an AL West title. Seems he hasn't forgotten how to hit in Arlington. The 40-year-old Puerto Rican homered and drove in three Saturday night as the Astros nipped the Rangers, 6-5, for their ninth win in a row. Houston becomes the first team in the majors to reach 40 wins (the next highest is 35) and they are quickly making the AL West race irrelevant.
Beltran: Big day at plate
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Beltran's smooth home run swing in the second off Andrew Castner which tied the game at 1-1 looked just like the swing he used in 2005 to have one of the most dominant postseasons any hitter has ever had. The next inning, after Carlos Correa slapped a bases-loaded single to give Houston the lead, Beltran drove home a pair with a base hit past a diving Rougned Odor into right field. The Astros led, 5-1, after a wild pitch plated Correa.
The Rangers responded against AL Pitcher of the Month Lance McCullers. Elvis Andrus rapped a two-run single in the fifth and nemesis Adrian Beltre drove home another run to draw the Arlington boys within one. Manager A.J. Hinch pulled McCullers at 96 pitches, just two outs away from perhaps recording the win.
Chris Devenski pulled McCullers out of the fire and covered 1-2/3rd innings with shutout relief.
With the score still 5-4 Houston in the ninth, Jose Altuve blasted the first pitch from Keone Kela into the left field stands for a 6-4 advantage. Altuve had three of the dozen Houston hits to jump his batting average up to .329 after he struggled back in April.
Andrus walked and stole second in the bottom of the ninth against Ken Giles when Beltre singled to send him home and raise hopes throughout Global Warming Park. Luke Gregerson, Will Harris and James Hoyt held the fort before Giles tried to close it out. With a futile swing from Odor, Giles was able to notch his 15th save and, once again, made Houston fans jittery before getting the job done. It was the 18th strikeout shared among the Astros' six hurlers.
Brad Peacock (2-0) makes his third start of the year Sunday in the 2:05 Central finale, seeking the team's third series sweep in a row. Martin Perez (2-5) will make the start for the Rangers, who begin play a full 14 games in back of Houston.
- Bob Hulsey