Desmond's homer extends Rangers' dominance of Astros
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Ian Desmond hit yet another clutch home run, and the Texas Rangers picked up yet another win over their AL West and instate rivals from Houston.
After Desmond's tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth inning, closer Sam Dyson pitched out of big trouble in the ninth and the Rangers beat the Astros 4-3 on Tuesday night for a season-high fifth straight win.
The Rangers are 8-0 this year against the Astros, who have lost 12 straight in Arlington. The only longer Texas streak at home against one team was a 15-game run against the New York Yankees from 1989-91.
And for the second straight night against Houston, division-leading Texas went ahead in its final at-bat for a one-run win.
"I think the psychological edge comes from within," Desmond said after his third go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later this season. "You worry about your job. If everyone takes care of No. 1, that's themselves, then you get a really good Texas Rangers team."
Desmond's one-out drive was just over the glove of leaping center fielder Carlos Gomez and came off 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel (3-8). It tagged the bearded the left-hander with as many losses as he had all last season while winning 20 games.
Lefty reliever Jake Diekman (1-1) had a scoreless eighth after seven solid innings from Cole Hamels.
Dyson struck out the side in the ninth for his eighth save but not until after giving up a run on a single from Luis Valbuena that put runners at the corners with one out. Dyson got pinch-hitter Tony Kemp and leadoff man George Springer swinging to end the game.
"It's awfully nice to finish off Mr. Ian's clutch home run," said Dyson, who has converted all six save chances since taking over for Shawn Tolleson. "Obviously you want it to go a little more smooth."
Gomez put Houston ahead with a two-run homer in the second off Hamels, who matched a season high with four walks and hit a batter but got help from three double plays, including one to escape a jam in the seventh. He had four strikeouts, leaving him two shy of 2,000.
Keuchel gave up 10 hits, including a tying solo homer from Bobby Wilson in the fifth, in 7 1/3 innings. He matched a season high with eight strikeouts.
The Astros, who had won 11 of 13 games coming into the four-game series, lost a night after reliever Ken Giles said the Astros were a more talented team following the Rangers' walk-off win in the ninth. His quote ended up on an electronic message board in the Texas clubhouse.
"It just seems like we play a lot better against everybody else," Keuchel said. "I was sitting here last time saying the same thing. It's a bad feeling for me when I give up a lead and see the game go out from my grasp."
A FIRST FOR PROFAR
Jurickson Profar, who played first base for the first time at any level simply to keep his hot bat in the lineup, had two more singles, including one before Desmond's homer.
The switch-hitting leadoff man has a hit in all 11 games, a career-best streak, since getting called up from Triple A-Round Rock to fill in for Rougned Odor during the second baseman's seven-game suspension for punching Toronto's Jose Bautista.
Out of the major leagues the past two seasons because of shoulder problems, Profar was the DH for two days to give struggling slugger Prince Fielder a break. He played second again before getting the start at first after just two days of pregame work at the position.
The middle infielder looked right at home, going spread eagle twice on stretches to get one double play and almost another. He handled nine chances without an error.
"Looked like a shortstop playing first base," manager Jeff Banister said. "He looked like he'd been over there before. Looked like he'd been practicing on it."
Rangers: RHP A.J. Griffin, out since May 7 with right shoulder stiffness, is scheduled for his first rehab assignment Thursday with Double-A Frisco at San Antonio. He's supposed to throw 45-50 pitches.
Astros: RHP Doug Fister (5-3, 3.51 ERA) has Houston's longest winning streak at four games. He threw six shutout innings in a 12-2 win over Oakland in his last start.
Rangers: RHP Yu Darvish (2-0, 3.38 ERA) makes his third start since returning from last year's Tommy John surgery. His final appearance before the elbow reconstruction was against the Astros on Aug. 9, 2014.