Rangers stay close, Astros drop 11th in row
Adrian Beltre homered for the first time at home in more than a month, then got back to the Texas dugout to find his teammates seemingly nodding off.
''I can't blame them. It's been a long time,'' Beltre said.
His solo shot in the sixth put the Rangers ahead to stay in a 3-2 victory over Houston on Tuesday night that kept them close in the wild-card race.
''But hopefully that'll be the beginning of a couple this week,'' Beltre said. ''Not because I hit a homer, but because it was a good spot to hit it.''
With five games left in the regular season, Texas remained a game behind Cleveland for the AL's second wild-card spot. Tampa Bay is a game ahead of the Indians in a crowded pack.
The Astros lost their 11th straight game, their 107th overall to match the franchise record set last year.
Once Beltre started jostling a few of his teammates, they jumped up and started celebrating with him.
''The guys fell out and went to sleep because they hadn't seen him do something like that in a long time. He put them to sleep,'' manager Ron Washington said. ''I was the only one who greeted him. That home run was huge right there. We certainly needed and it couldn't have got it as a bigger time.''
Beltre's 29th homer snapped a 2-all tie with one out in the sixth. That came after Yu Darvish gave up the lead in the top half of the inning.
The AL leader with 193 hits, Beltre hadn't homered since Aug. 28 at Seattle. His last at home had been Aug. 20, also against the Astros.
Neal Cotts (6-3) struck out two in a scoreless inning after taking over for Darvish. Joe Nathan, the fourth reliever, worked a perfect ninth for his 41st save in 44 chances.
Matt Dominguez homered for the Astros, and rookie Brad Peacock (5-6) struck out seven in six innings while allowing three runs and six hits.
''I felt like he threw the ball outstanding,'' Astros manager Bo Porter said. ''Even the homer Beltre hit was a fastball down. You've got to tip your cap to him.''
The Rangers are 16-2 this season against Houston, winning the last 10. It's the most wins Texas has ever had in a season against one team.
Darvish threw 101 pitches but failed to get past the sixth inning for the third time his five starts in September, even while going over 200 innings for the season. The right-hander also immediately gave up a Rangers lead for the fifth time this year.
Texas went ahead 2-1 in the fifth when Craig Gentry had a leadoff single before a sacrifice bunt by Leonys Martin and a run-scoring hit by Ian Kinsler. Gentry scored while third baseman Matt Dominguez cut off left fielder Marc Krauss' throw and threw out Kinsler trying to get to second.
Dominguez then led off the top of the sixth with a homer that ricocheted off the left-field foul pole. It was his 21st of the season, and third off Darvish.
Two batters later, Darvish was gone after walking Trevor Crowe, a .231 hitter, for the second consecutive time.
''I was just trying to survive each inning and try to do the best I can in that situation and that's it,'' Darvish said through his translator. ''The most important thing right now is to win a game. I was able to keep us in the game, and that's all I can say.''
Darvish struck out nine and walked four while allowing four hits in 5 1-3 innings. Twice this season, Darvish took no-hit bids against Houston into the eighth inning.
The Astros loaded the bases in the first on Jose Altuve's single and two walks, and Chris Carter's sacrifice made it 1-0.
''When you get a guy like that on the ropes you want to get three or four runs,'' Porter said.
Beltre drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and scored on Geovany Soto's single to tie it at 1. The big blow came two innings later, a shot into the left-field seats.
''Apparently I found out a way today. It's been a long time,'' Beltre said. ''It felt good. It felt really good, I haven't had that feeling in a long time.''
NOTES: Texas won 15 games against Seattle in 2011. ... The last MLB team with at least 16 wins against the same opponent was Boston, which went 16-2 against Baltimore in 2009. ... Suspended Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz, who would be eligible for the playoffs, was 5 for 15 with a homer in this first four instructional league games in Arizona. ... Rangers RF Alex Rios, who hit for the cycle Monday, stole his 40th base.