Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Astros 1
HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers made it seven straight wins as Martin Perez threw the first complete game of his young major league career in a 6-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.
Perez lost his bid for a shutout when Astros designated hitter Chris Carter belted a home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
The Rangers have the longest current winning streak in the major leagues. They have won 12 of their past 13 games.
Keeping the lead: The Rangers needed Sunday's win to stay ahead of Oakland in the American League West. Texas will start Monday a game in front of the A's after they beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4 on Sunday. The Rangers are 68-50 for their best record of the season.
Perez shines: Perez put together the best start of his career. The 22-year-old lefty went the distance, allowing four hits. He had eight strikeouts and two walks and threw 115 pitches. Perez worked both sides of the plate and had five strikeouts looking, all on pitches at the knees. He also was deceptive with his changeup and curveball. Perez lowered his season ERA to 3.46. His previous longest start had been 7 1/3 innings on July 31 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Keuchel throws well, too: Astros fans are looking for something to latch onto with just 37 wins in 116 games. Their young starting pitching looks to be OK. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel had a strong outing on Sunday, allowing one earned run in eight innings.
Rios again: Newly acquired Alex Rios is off to a great start for the Rangers. He had a leadoff single in the fifth, beating out a throw from Astros shortstop Jake Elmore, who double-pumped on the play. Rios' hustle paid off later in the inning on Geovany Soto's RBI double to center field. Rios also gave the Rangers some cushion in the top of the sixth with an RBI double to make it 2-0. It gave Rios run-scoring hits in his first two games since he was acquired by Texas from the Chicago White Sox.
Soto clutch: It seems like every time Soto plays these days he comes through with a clutch hit. Soto, who was hitting rockets on Saturday during batting practice, crushed a fastball over Astros center fielder Brandon Barnes for a ground-rule double and a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Soto has six RBIs in his past nine games.
Profar dazzles at SS: Jurickson Profar electrified the Minute Maid crowd with a play deep into the hole at shortstop in the bottom of the seventh. Profar got to the ball, then made a side-armed throw across the diamond that Jeff Baker scooped up at first base for the third out of the inning. Profar also broke the game open with his first hit of the game, a two-run single in the top of the ninth, with another run scoring on an error to give the Rangers a 5-0 lead.
Rios deal done: The Rangers made it official -- Leury Garcia is the player to be named later in the Rios trade. The Astros didn't put in a claim on Garcia, so he was awarded to the White Sox to complete Friday's trade.
On deck: The Rangers go for a four-game sweep of the Astros when ace right-hander Yu Darvish faces Astros left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (2-0, 2.53) at 1:10 p.m. Monday on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.