Rangers sweep series
Published 11:47 pm Thursday, September 17, 2015
ARLINGTON (AP) — Mitch Moreland hit a three-run homer, Colby Lewis pitched six innings for his 16th victory and the AL West-leading Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 8-2 Thursday night to complete a four-game sweep.
Shin Soo-Choo matched his career high with four hits, scored twice and drove in two runs for the Rangers (79-67), who entered the series trailing Houston by 1 1/2 games.
Texas now leads the division by 2 1/2 games with 16 remaining, including three at Houston from Sept. 25-27.
Houston had been alone top the AL West for 49 consecutive days until losing Tuesday night. The Astros (77-70) finished a 2-8 trip and had just a one-game lead for the second AL wild card over Minnesota, which played later against the Los Angeles Angels.
Moreland’s 21st homer was an opposite-field drive that just cleared the 14-foot-wall in left field in the third. Choo had a one-out single and Prince Fielder walked before Moreland made it 3-0 off rookie right-hander Lance McCullers (5-6).
Lewis (16-8) allowed two runs and seven hits. The right-hander,
already with a career high for victories, struck out three and hit a batter.
The Astros play Oakland on Friday, the first of nine games in their final homestand of the regular season. They have the AL’s best home record at 48-24.
Jed Lowrie had a two-out single for Houston in the fourth before an RBI double by Evan Gattis, a ball misplayed in left by Mike Napoli. Lewis then hit a batter before Luis Valbuena’s RBI single closed the Astros to 3-2.
Houston had two runners on in the fifth when Colby Rasmus grounded into an inning-ending double play. Second baseman Rougned Odor went to his left to field the ball, and was falling away when he threw a strike to shortstop Elvis Andrus for the relay to first.
In the seventh, Adrian Beltre fielded Jose Altuve’s chopper, stepped on third base and threw across the diamond for another big double play. George Springer then struck out to end that inning, stranding a runner at second.
There was a moment of silence before the game to honor Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton, who died earlier Thursday at age 88.
Hamilton spent 60 seasons broadcasting major league games, and had been with six other teams before going to Houston in 1985. He retired after the 2012 season and had since served as a guest radio commentator for select Astros home games.
Astros: C Jason Castro was back in the lineup after being activated from the disabled list. He missed 16 games with a right quad strain. … Lowrie played or the first time since getting hit by a pitch on the left shin Monday night.
Rangers: OF Josh Hamilton (left knee) hopes to take batting practice on the field Friday, a week after arthroscopic surgery to clean meniscus in his knee. He hopes to maybe pinch-hit by the end of the weekend.
Astros: Mike Fiers (7-10) is set to start the homestand opener against Oakland.
Rangers: Yovani Gallardo (12-10), who is 9-4 his last 21 starts, takes the mound in the opener of a three-game series against Seattle.