Astros starter Luis Garcia and reliever Phil Maton each threw an immaculate inning -- nine pitches, three strikeouts -- and Martin Maldonado keyed a six-run first inning that sent Houston over the Texas Rangers 9-2 Wednesday.
Maldonado hit a two-run double in the first and later homered as the AL West-leading Astros wrapped up their seventh consecutive series victory against their instate division rival.
Garcia (4-5) struck out nine without a walk over six innings while limiting Texas to two runs and four hits.
Garcia had a span of five consecutive strikeouts that began with an immaculate second inning -- when he threw only nine pitches to strike out Nathaniel Lowe, Ezequiel Duran and Brad Miller.
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Those were the first three batters Maton faced after replacing Garcia to start the seventh. And Maton also recorded a nine-pitch, three-strikeout inning.
Astros and Rangers officials said it was the first time in MLB history to have two nine-pitch, three-strikeout innings in the same game -- either both by one team, or each team recording one.
The only AL West team with a winning record, Houston (39-24) had lost four of five after dropping the series opener. The Astros then won 4-3 on Tuesday night with a four-run rally in the eighth inning and started the series finale with another big outburst.
The latest news from around North Texas.
The Astros sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning. The first nine faced fill-in starter Tyson Miller (0-1), who was gone after No. 9 batter Maldonado's double to right.
Miller was a replacement call-up from Triple-A Round Rock when the Rangers put Glenn Otto on the COVID-19-related injured list, only hours before the right-hander was set to start a series opener Friday night against the White Sox. Miller threw 2 1/3 innings in relief against the Chicago White Sox but got the start against the Astros when Otto's spot in the rotation came up again.
Houston leadoff man Jose Altuve was hit by Miller's third pitch of the game, before a single and walk loaded the bases. Yordan Alvarez then hit a two-run double to extend his on-base streak to 16 games and put the Astros ahead to stay. Kyler Tucker followed with an RBI groundout.
Maldonado led off the fourth with his fifth homer of the season to make it 7-2. Yuli Gurriel hit a two-run homer in the Astros' eighth.
Garcia's streak of five consecutive strikeouts ended when Corey Seager hit his 13th homer, a solo drive in the third. Garcia then got out of the inning with another strikeout.
Astros: Rookie SS Jeremy Pena was placed on the 10-day injured list with left thumb discomfort, a day after returning to Houston to be evaluated by team doctors. He got hurt when attempting to catch a bloop hit in the series opener Monday.
A three-man umpiring crew worked the game after umpire David Rackley, who was supposed to work the plate, was ruled out due to health and safety protocols. Ryan Blakeney, who had been set to work first base, was behind the plate instead. Marvin Hudson and Junior Valentine, the other two umpires on the crew, were on the bases.
Astros: After an off-day Thursday, the Astros play a three-game series at home against the Chicago White Sox. Left-hander Framber Valdez (6-3, 2.64 ERA) starts the series opener Friday night. He has recorded nine consecutive quality starts.
Rangers: Martin Perez (4-2, 2.18) looks to bounce back from a no-decision in which he gave up 12 hits and seven runs, both season highs. Texas opens a four-game series in Detroit on Thursday night.