HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas Rangers got hits from seven of their nine starters on Friday night, to the delight of manager Ron Washington.
“That’s when we’re at our best, when we get hits from everybody,” Washington said.
Leonys Martin hit a two-run double in a four-run eighth inning, and the Rangers used the balanced attack to rally and tie a season high with their fifth straight victory, 9-5 over the Houston Astros.
Houston led by one entering the eighth before Adrian Beltre tied it with an RBI single off Josh Zeid (0-1). Wesley Wright’s two-out, bases-loaded walk of Jurickson Profar put the Rangers on top. Martin then belted a line drive to right field to score two and make it 7-4.
“Since we’re playing so aggressively, that lead that they had didn’t mean a lot to us,” Martin said. “I think we’re playing good baseball right now.”
The Rangers have rebounded from a stretch where they lost 12 of 15 games to win 10 of their last 11 and move into a tie with Oakland for first place in the AL West.
Matt Garza (2-1) yielded seven hits and four runs with eight strikeouts in seven innings.
“Great team win,” Garza said. “I stayed long enough in there to let the boys come back and pick it up. Sometimes you give up four and you get a win.”
The Astros used five pitchers in the eighth inning alone, but it didn’t help relieve their bullpen woes. Houston’s relievers have given up the lead six times in the last 13 games and have blown six saves in that span.
“I personally feel sorry for our starters, but they are not going to show it because they are good teammates,” manager Bo Porter said.
Jason Castro doubled and homered, and Brandon Barnes added a home run for the Astros, who lost for the seventh time in eight games.
Houston loaded the bases in the eighth inning, but came away empty-handed when Neal Cotts struck out pinch-hitter Marc Krauss to end the inning. He earned his first save.
Joey Butler had his first career hits on a pair of doubles for Texas in his first major league start.
“I’m real happy,” Washington said in summing up the night. “The key is what’s happening up and down the lineup. Tonight it was a big walk by Joey Butler, another big walk by Profar; it was a battle by Martin against a lefty to deliver.”
Butler’s second double came with one out in the seventh inning. Profar’s RBI single got Texas within 4-3 before Houston starter Erik Bedard ended his night by striking out Martin.
Ian Kinsler walked to start the eighth and stole second base. The Rangers tied it at 4-all with Beltre’s RBI single to shallow center field which chased Zeid.
Josh Fields intentionally walked pinch-hitter David Murphy with two outs before walking Butler to load the bases and bring on Wright.
Things looked good for the Astros early. Castro’s 445-foot homer to the second deck in right field to start the second put Houston up 1-0.
Singles by Kinsler and A. J. Pierzynski sandwiched around a walk by Beltre loaded the bases in the fourth inning. A sacrifice fly by Jeff Baker tied it at 1 before a sacrifice bunt sent Beltre home to put Texas up 2-1.
Garza had retired six in a row before L.J. Hoes doubled to start Houston’s fourth. A double by Jose Altuve sent Hoes home to make it 2-all.
Castro’s 31st double, which bounced off the wall in left-center, scored Altuve to put Houston up 3-2. Barnes homered to start the fifth for a two-run lead.
Bedard allowed seven hits and three runs in 6 2-3 innings and is winless since June 26.
Houston’s inexperience was painfully evident in the ninth inning, when Pierzynski bunted and rookie pitcher Jorge De Leon scooped up the ball and looked at Kinsler on third before throwing to first. As soon as De Leon looked away, Kinsler dashed home ahead of the throw to make it 8-4.
Murphy had an RBI double later in the ninth.
NOTES: The Rangers acquired OF Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox on Friday. He will join the team on Saturday. … Texas DH Lance Berkman, who has been on the DL since July 7 with left hip inflammation and also experienced pain in his surgically repaired right knee, will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday. … Houston SS Jonathan Villar was out of the lineup for a second straight game with a sprained left thumb. Porter said he will not go on the DL, but he isn’t sure when he’ll play. “He’s going to take batting practice and go through the whole routine and we will re-evaluate it after to see what degree of soreness if any and then move forward from there,” Porter said. … The series continues on Saturday when Texas left-hander Derek Holland opposes Brad Peacock.