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Saturday, July 14th 2018, 7:20am

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Jose Altuve was more than due when he came to bat in the 10th
inning Roquan Smith
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, and got a winning rally started for the Houston

”He hadn’t gotten a hit in four at-bats,” manager A.J. Hinch said of the
second basemen who led the American League in hits each of the past four seasons
and is the MLB leader so far this year.

Altuve was actually in an 0-for-13 slide before his fifth at-bat Wednesday
night against the Texas Rangers. His 115th hit of the season was a one-out
single off Chris Martin, who then hit Yuli Gurriel with a pitch before an errant
pickoff throw allowed both runners to move up. That set up Evan Gattis‘
tiebreaking sacrifice fly in a 5-4 victory.

Gurriel homered, doubled and scored twice as the Astros overcame an early
four-run deficit. His fifth homer, leading off the fifth against starter Mike
Minor, tied the game at 4.

Josh Reddick also went deep for the Astros 49ers Authentic
, who their eighth consecutive road game against Texas and
are a majors-best 32-14 on the road this season. The Astros have a 12-4
advantage in the season series between the instate division rivals that has only
a three-game set remaining in Houston later this month.

Shin-Soo Choo homered and had a single to extend his on-base streak to 44
games, the longest in his career and in the majors this season. That matches
Otis Nixon’s streak in 1995 for the Rangers, and trails only Julio Franco’s
46-gamer in 1993 for the team record.

Texas led 4-0 after Choo’s one-out solo homer started a three-run outburst in
the third off starter Gerrit Cole.

Collin McHugh (4-0), who won 48 games as a starter for the Astros the past
four seasons, allowed only one hit over three scoreless innings. Ken Giles
worked the 10th for his 12th save in 12 chances.

”You’re talking about a 19-game winner in the big leagues. Those don’t grow
on trees,” said Astros reliever Will Harris Alex
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, who worked out of a jam in the sixth before
McHugh took over. ”He goes out there and he knows who he is. He mixes it up,
he’s a strike thrower and he’s a fearless guy out there.”


The start of the game was delayed for a few minutes after Minor had issues
with the mound during warmups. The ground crew came out to work on the slippery
dirt. Cole also was unhappy with the mound. Martin (1-2) slipped and fell down
when throwing the pitch that hit Gurriel. The Rangers said afterward that Martin
was being evaluated for a left groin issue.

”The mound early seemed to be slick,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.


The Astros have homered in 24 consecutive road games, three short of the MLB
record set by the Oakland Athletics earlier this season. Baltimore also went
deep in 24 consecutive road games in 1996.


Cole, who threw 108 pitches to get through five innings, struck out seven to
increase his season total to 158. The only Astros pitcher with more strikeouts
before the All-Star break is Mike Scott Cheap
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, with 167 in 22 starts in
1986. Cole has made 18 starts, with two more scheduled before the break. … In
four starts against Texas this season, Cole has 40 strikeouts in 25 innings.


Minor retired the first 19 San Diego batters he faced in his previous start a
week earlier. The lefty allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits over six
innings against Houston with four strikeouts and three walks.

”Probably not as sharp as he’s been,” Banister said. ”Looked like they were
sitting on slider.”


Astros: Hinch said C Max Stassi was feeling better than expected after
getting hit by a pitch on his right (throwing) wrist in the first inning
Tuesday, on the same day starting catcher Brian McCann had arthroscopic surgery
on his right knee.

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre, baseball’s active career hits leader (3 Youth
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,108), was scratched from the lineup about an
hour before the game because of an infected tooth. He had a root canal and then
traveled with the team to Detroit. … RHP Tony Barnette went on the 10-day
disabled list. An MRI revealed a strained lat that will keep him from throwing
for at least four weeks. He left Tuesday night’s game in the middle of a


Astros: Justin Verlander (9-4), who has lost his last two starts, is on the
mound when the Astros return home for the opener Thursday night of a four-game
series against the Chicago White Sox.

Rangers: The Rangers open a 10-game, 11-day trip that will take them to the
All-Star break when they play Thursday night at Detroit. Texas also plays at
Boston and Baltimore before their next home game July 20.

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