HOUSTON -- What a way to get things started with a new team.
Alex Rios began his Texas Rangers tenure in the best way possible, hitting a tying triple and later scoring the go-ahead run on a play at the plate. The Rangers held on for a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night, moving them into first place by themselves in the American League West.
Rios wasn't able to make it to Houston for Friday night's game, but his debut was worth the wait. He was 2-for-3 with a single in the fourth inning and his triple in the top of the eighth. Rios also had a walk.
"He's a clutch guy," said Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who had a tying home run in the seventh inning. "He knows how to drive balls and bring guys in."
Rios, attractive to the Rangers because of his power and speed, played a big role in the pivotal top of the eighth. The Astros had regained the lead after Andrus' home run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh, giving them a 4-3 lead.
Rios' teammate for four seasons in Chicago, A.J. Pierzynski, started the rally in the top of the eighth with a long double to left-center field with one out. Rios followed by lining a single to center field off Astros reliever Lucas Harrell. It turned into a triple when Astros center fielder Brandon Barnes made an ill-advised diving attempt on the sinking line drive, allowing Pierzynski to score to tie things. Rios made it to third base.
"I saw it going by him," Rios said. "I just took advantage of it after that."
Rios wasn't done. Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland hit a sharp ground ball to second base with the Astros playing the infield in. Rios, running on contact, arrived a little before Jose Altuve's throw and jarred the ball away from catcher Jason Castro. It was ruled an error, and Rios scored to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead.
Still, Rios' hustle on the play mattered.
"I was just trying to get there," Rios said. "As quick as I could. I had a good chance to get to the plate and get the ball out. It worked out perfectly."
His first night worked out about as well as it could have. The Rangers won for the 11th time in 12 games, and the newcomer played a big part.
"Obviously when you come to a new team, you want to do well," Pierzynski said. "We're not asking him to be a savior or carry the team. We're just asking him to do what he's capable of doing. That's what you saw tonight."
Rios couldn't have felt better about it as he celebrated his first win with the Rangers.
"It gives me a little bit of confidence and a little bit of motivation," Rios said. "The welcome I got from the guys, it's unbelievable."