Kyle Tucker hit a three-run double in the fifth inning and Cristian Javier won his first start of the season as the Houston Astros held off the Texas Rangers 4-3 on Wednesday night.
Javier (1-0) allowed two runs in five innings, giving up four hits and two walks while striking out four. He was promoted to Houston’s sixth starter thanks to 8 1/3 shutout innings in three relief appearances.
Tucker was a late addition to the starting lineup after manager Dusty Baker decided to move the outfielder’s first off day this season from Wednesday to Thursday.
“That happens sometimes,” Baker said. “Good thing I did.”
After a mound visit from Rangers co-pitching coach Doug Mathis, Tucker scorched an 82 mph curveball to the gap in left-center with two outs off reliever Brett Martin (0-2). The ball rolled all the way to the wall to clear the bases. Martin allowed a single and a walk among the three previous batters in relief of starter Glenn Otto.
Tucker has seven RBIs in the first three games of a four-game series.
Ryne Stanek earned his first save since last August. He allowed a run in the ninth but left the potential tying run at third base after putting runners on second and third with none out.
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“It’s a situation where you do a lot of praying,” Baker said.
Willie Calhoun walked to start the Texas ninth and advanced to third on a double by Adolis Garcia. Jonah Heim grounded sharply to deep first base, and Calhoun remained on third.
“I was just shocked when the runner at third didn’t go home,” Baker said.
“I just made a bad play,” Calhoun said. “I should have definitely ran.”
Calhoun eventually scored and Garcia reached third on Brad Miller’s groundout to shortstop. Stanek then struck out Kole Calhoun, who couldn’t hold up his swing on a 3-2 pitch.
The Astros have won two straight for the third time this season, equaling their longest winning streak.
“I can’t tell you the last time we won two in a row,” Baker said.
It was April 10-12.
Houston’s 9-9 record is one game better than through 18 games last year, when the Astros were AL West champs for the fourth time in five seasons and went to the World Series.
The Rangers have lost two in a row after winning four of their previous five games.
Chas McCormick hit the game’s first pitch from Otto 381 feet just beyond the right-field fence for an opposite-field home run, his first of the season. That snapped an 0-for-11 streak for McCormick.
Mitch Garver hit his second homer of the season, his first since opening day, in the second inning to tie the score at 1. The shot carried just beyond the 372-foot sign in left field.
Miller singled home Garcia later in the inning to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Garcia scored from second base after a successful Texas challenge reversed a caught stealing call at second. The inning ended when left fielder Yordan Alvarez threw out Heim at the plate.
Javier began last season in the rotation but was sent to the bullpen after his ninth start on May 23.
Otto made his second start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.
LHP Matt Moore, Texas’ second reliever, came within one pitch of an immaculate inning in the sixth. After striking out J.J. Matijevic and Jeremy Pena looking on six pitches, Moore went 0-2 on Jason Castro before he dribbled a grounder to first base.
PITCHING BUT NO WEDGE
Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, a Dallas resident, threw out the ceremonial first pitch while wearing his green jacket. He’s similarly scheduled to drop the puck before the Dallas Stars’ regular-season finale on Friday night.
Astros: RHP Ryan Pressly (right knee inflammation), placed on the 10-day injured list April 16, might not throw another simulated game.
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (1-1, 1.89 ERA) has allowed only 10 hits and four walks against 20 strikeouts in 19 innings as he returns from Tommy John surgery that sidelined him in 2021.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (0-2, 3.86) threw a season-high six innings and 86 pitches Saturday at Oakland in the only one of his three starts Texas has won this season.