TX, HOUSTON (AP) — Framber Valdez shut out the Texas Rangers for seven innings, Martn Maldonado and Alex Bregman each hit a home run with three RBIs, and the Houston Astros defeated the Rangers, 7-3, on Thursday.
With manager Dusty Baker back at the helm after missing five games with COVID-19, the Astros have a better record than the New York Yankees (72-41), who have been in a freefall.
Valdez (11-4) won his third straight game by allowing just four singles while striking out eight batters.
Houston scored five runs in four and a third innings against rookie Cole Ragans (0-1).
Maldonado’s towering shot in the second inning made it 3-0 after Jeremy Pea and Jake Meyers had reached on consecutive singles with one out.
Bregman hit a solo home run with one out in the fifth inning after Yuli Gurriel led off with a single, increasing Houston’s lead to 5-0 and forcing 24-year-old Ragans to leave the game for the first time in his major league career.
With one out in the third inning, Ezequiel Duran singled before Bubba Thompson was hit by a pitch from Valdez. After Adolis Garcia’s single with two outs, the bases were loaded, but Valdez got out of the jam by retiring Jonah Heim.
Valdez retired the first 11 batters he faced, starting with Heim, before allowing a single to Leody Taveras with one out in the seventh. When Charlie Culberson singled, he advanced Taveras to third, but Valdez ended the inning by striking out Duran and Thompson.
In the seventh inning, Bregman added to the Astros’ lead with an RBI single, and Aledmys Daz made it 7-0 with an RBI sacrifice fly.
Gurriel, who was in a 0-for-12 slump coming into the game, tied his season high with three hits.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the lead was cut in half when both Nathaniel Lowe and Taveras hit RBI singles. With two outs in the ninth, Marcus Semien hit a home run.
ROOM FOR TRAINERS
Starting Pitcher for the Rangers, Right-Handed Joe Barlow (right index finger blister) will make one more rehab appearance before the club decides whether or not to activate him.
For the Astros, a left-handed pitcher. Houston Astros outfielder Blake Taylor (elbow inflammation) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment in Florida.
Rangers: For Friday night’s series opener against visiting Seattle, Texas has not yet announced its starting pitcher.
Luis Garcia (8-8, 3.93) will start for the Astros in the first game of a three-game home series against the Athletics on Friday night. The A’s are set to go with Adam Oller (1-5, 7.63) on the mound.
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