Astros hit 6 homers, beat Rangers to boost playoff chances
Carlos Correa didn't sleep at all on Thursday night while fighting a cold, and he struggled in a loss to the Rangers on Friday night.
A day and a few hours of sleep later, Houston's star rookie felt -- and performed -- much better.
Correa and Jose Altuve hit two homers apiece as the Astros connected a season-high six times in a 9-7 win over the Rangers on Saturday, cutting Texas' lead in the AL West to 3 1/2 games.
"Obviously I didn't feel good and I struck out three times," Correa said of Friday's performance. "It happens ... you've got be able to go the next day and bounce back and do something to help the team. I went to the plate in my first at-bat with a lot of confidence like I hit three homers the day before."
Manager A.J. Hinch wasn't worried about how Correa would bounce back on Saturday.
"There's never a doubt with Carlos showing up," Hinch said. "He's got a chance to dominate the game. I'm not sure I would have predicted the type of day that he had but it's always in there. His ability to stay calm in the moment continues to shine through."
The victory breaks an eight-game losing streak to the Rangers and ends a three-game skid overall for Houston, which increased its lead for the second AL wild card spot to one game over the Angels, who play later Saturday.
Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus also homered for the Astros, who are second in the majors with 216 long balls this season. The six homers Texas gave up were a season high.
The Astros trailed by three early before Correa's second home run, this one a two-run shot, tied it at four in the third. Carter's 418-foot home run to left-center put Houston on top 5-4 in the sixth, and Rasmus's two-run drive extended the lead to 8-4 in the seventh.
Correa shook off his first career three-strikeout game on Friday with his second multihomer game. The rookie had three hits and reached base safely on each of his five at-bats thanks to a walk and a wild pitch. His 21 home runs are the most by a shortstop in franchise history, surpassing the 20 Dickie Thon hit in 1983. The top overall pick in 2012 also tied Lance Berkman for most home runs by a rookie in team history.
Altuve, who returned to the lineup after being injured in a collision with Correa Friday night, got his first multihomer game when he went deep again in the eighth inning.
"I need to hit him every single day so he hits homers the next day," Correa said with a laugh.
The Rangers scored three runs in the ninth off closer Luke Gregerson to cut the lead to 9-7 with two outs. Gregerson was replaced by Will Harris after he plunked Adrian Beltre to leave runners at first and second. Harris retired Mitch Moreland for his second save.
"I just think our guys really, really have hung in there," Hinch said. "We have a chance to win the series tomorrow, which is a big deal and (we) certainly needed every run today given how Texas never quits."
Collin McHugh (18-7) settled down after his tough first inning to allow eight hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings for his fifth straight win.
Derek Holland yielded seven hits and four runs in five innings, and Chi Chi Gonzalez (4-6) allowed one hit and three runs (one earned) in 1 2/3 innings for the loss. Holland got hit on his left hand by a ball hit by Altuve in the first inning and said it bothered him the rest of the day.
"He battled through that all day long," manager Jeff Banister said. "Probably didn't have the best feel for the baseball. But it felt like he grinded it out well enough."
Astros: OF Carlos Gomez (intercostal strain) missed his 13th straight game, but Hinch said he could return to the lineup in the next couple of days. He was available as a defensive replacement.
Rangers: Texas OF Josh Hamilton was in the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 15. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Sept. 11 and has appeared in two games as a pinch hitter since then. Banister isn't sure how much Hamilton will play in the future. "It's still day to day based off how he feels," Banister said. "We're at a point now where we need to find out how it's going to go."
The series wraps up when Houston ace Dallas Keuchel (18-8, 2.51 ERA) opposes Martin Perez (3-5, 5.21 ERA). Keuchel is 14-0 at home this season with a 1.47 ERA, but he allowed a season-high nine runs in a loss to Texas on Sept. 16.