HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas Rangers talked before their game Saturday about how they didn’t need new right fielder Alex Rios to be their savior as he takes over for suspended slugger Nelson Cruz.
Rios ended saving his new team anyway in his debut.
Rios tied the game with an RBI triple in the eighth inning and scored the go-ahead run to help the Rangers to a 5-4 comeback victory over the Houston Astros.
“I came here to try to contribute in any way possible and take advantage of everything that I’m given,” said Rios, who fills the hole left when Cruz was suspended for 50 games in the Biogenesis investigation. “Tonight was a good game. We came up with some big hits.”
One of the biggest was a two-run homer by Elvis Andrus as the Rangers extended their winning streak to a season-high six games.
Rios, who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Friday, tripled off reliever Lucas Harrell (5-13) in the eighth inning to tie it after a double by A.J. Pierzynski. Rios then slid feet first into home on a ball hit by Mitch Moreland, scoring when catcher Jason Castro dropped the ball in the collision for an error to put Texas up 5-4.
“We had a contact play on and he ran down the line like a train,” manager Ron Washington said. “Castro caught that ball and when he came around he knocked it out of his glove and that was the winning run. He can do some things out there on the ball field and that’s all we want him to do, is just play the game the way he can play.”
The Rangers trailed by two in the seventh before the Astros’ bullpen failed them again, with Kevin Chapman allowing Andrus’ first home run this season to tie it at 3.
The Astros regained the lead when Brandon Barnes scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of that inning.
Pierzynski hit a solo home run in the sixth inning.
Texas starter Derek Holland allowed six hits and three runs in six innings. Jason Frasor (3-2) allowed one run in the seventh for the win and Joe Nathan threw a scoreless ninth for his 34th save.
Chris Carter had two hits, including his 20th homer, and Castro added a pair of hits to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. Carter is the first Astros player to hit 20 homers since 2010, when both Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence reached the mark.
It was the first multihit game since July 3 for Carter, who has been in a monthlong slump.
Jurickson Profar reached on an error by Jake Elmore to start the seventh inning. Chapman retired the next two batters before Andrus sent an 82 mph slider into the Crawford Boxes in left field and flipped his bat as he left the plate.
“I always say if a guy hits 30 or 40, it doesn’t look good,” Andrus said of the bat flip. “I don’t really hit too many. I have to enjoy it because I don’t know when I’ll hit my next one.”
Andrus was greeted by his enthusiastic teammates who jumped up and down, patted his head and gave him high-fives as he entered the dugout.
The shot ended a 557 at-bat homerless streak for Andrus. He shook off a tough night where he struck out on his first three at-bats with his first homer since Sept. 4.
Houston manager Bo Porter was more upset with the error by Elmore than the homer Chapman gave up to Andrus.
“When you give a team extra outs, especially a team that has a good offensive team like the Texas Rangers, you put yourself at more risk to give up runs,” Porter said.
Barnes was at third in the seventh inning when a pitch by Frasor bounced in the dirt, off Pierzynski’s arm and toward the Rangers dugout, allowing Barnes to easily trot home to make it 4-3.
Houston took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Jose Altuve in the third inning.
Carter’s no-doubter, which landed on the train tracks atop left field, pushed Houston’s lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning.
Leonys Martin walked to start the fifth before Andrus struck out for the third time. He had a few angry words with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi before Cuzzi finally lifted his mask and told Andrus to get off the field.
Pierzynski launched his homer into the second deck in right field with one out in the sixth inning to get Texas within 2-1.
Houston got the run back in the bottom of that inning when Matt Dominguez hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to make it 3-1.
Starter Brad Peacock yielded three hits and a run in six innings for the Astros.
NOTES: Texas LHP Matt Harrison, the team’s opening day starter before two operations on a herniated disk in his lower back, left a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Round Rock with numbness in his throwing hand. Harrison is returning to Arlington to visit a doctor about the problem and Washington said he didn’t have a report on his condition yet. Washington wasn’t sure how to respond to the setback. “I don’t know,” he said. “Many things have happened to us this year, and it’s another one we have to get past.”… Houston LHP Travis Blackley, who was designated for assignment on Thursday, has been outrighted to Triple A Oklahoma City. He has three days to accept the assignment or become a free agent. … Houston SS Jonathan Villar was out of the lineup for a third straight game with a sprained left thumb. He pinch-ran in the eighth inning. … The series continues on Sunday when Texas left-hander Martin Perez opposes Dallas Keuchel.