Texas Rangers

Astros complete sweep with 12-3 win over Rangers

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

José Abreu hit a grand slam and a three-run homer, those among five more long balls for Houston in the pivotal three-game AL West series, and the Astros completed a sweep over the slumping Texas Rangers with a 12-3 victory Wednesday night.

Abreu’s grand slam in the third inning was Houston’s third homer against Texas starter Max Scherzer, while fellow three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander (11-7) settled in after giving up a long ball on his first pitch that was the only earned run he allowed over seven innings.

Houston hit 16 homers in the series — its most ever in any three-game span — while outscoring Texas 39-10 in their final head-to-head matchup this regular season. Yordan Alvarez and Michael Brantley also went deep against Scherzer, and Houston tacked on two more homers in the ninth off reliever Brock Burke. Abreu had a three-run blast and matched his career high with seven RBIs, and Chas McCormick also went deep.

The sweep put the reigning World Series champion Astros (80-61) in sole possession of the AL West lead for the first time all season, a game ahead of Seattle.

Marcus Semien hit two solo homers and had an RBI single to drive in all three runs for Texas (76-63), which lost for the 15th time in 19 games.

After being alone or tied for first place 148 of the season’s first 149 days, the Rangers are now third in the AL West, a season-high three games off the division lead. They also remained percentage points behind Toronto (77-63) for the American League’s third and final wild-card spot after the Blue Jays also lost.

It was the 12th regular-season meeting of pitchers with at least three Cy Youngs apiece, and first time ever that two-time teammates Verlander and Scherzer pitched against each other in a game. The right-handers were together with the Detroit Tigers from 2010-14, and this season with the New York Mets before both were traded right before the deadline to different AL West contenders.

The 40-year-old Verlander, whose 255 career victories are the most among active pitchers, scattered four hits and two runs (one earned) over seven innings. He struck out six and walked one.

Scherzer (12-6) was done after three innings, during which he allowed a season-high seven runs, all on the homers, with four strikeouts and two walks while throwing 60 pitches. He had pitched one-hit ball over six scoreless innings against Minnesota five days earlier, but left after 88 pitchers and later said he had some forearm tightness.

After Scherzer began Wednesday by striking out Jose Altuve, who had homered five times in the previous two nights, Jeremy Pena hit a double off the top of the wall and Yordan Alvarez followed with his 25th homer a 2-0 lead. Michael Brantley went deep in the second, a play on which All-Star right fielder Adolis Garcia got hurt after leaping at the wall to try to make a run-saving catch.

Garcia jammed his right leg hard after coming down to the ground, and the Rangers said he had knee discomfort.

Houston's 10th grand slam of the season was a 425-foot drive to left-center in the third that made it 7-1.


The matchup of active career strikeout leaders Scherzer (3,365, 11th place overall) and Verlander (3,317, 13th place) was the first for starting pitchers both with at least 3,000 strikeouts since Boston's Curt Schilling went against Roger Clemens of the New York Yankees on Sept. 16, 2007.


An off day Thursday for both teams. The Astros return home and open a three-game series against San Diego on Friday night, while Texas continues its nine-game homestand with the first of three games against Oakland.

Copyright Associated Press
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