Rapid Reaction: Rangers 7, Astros 3
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers finished off a sweep of the Houston Astros on Wednesday night with a 7-3 victory and they needed it, because the teams they are chasing in the American League wild-card race keep on winning.
The Rangers completed their season series with the Houston Astros with a 17-2 record, their most wins in a single season against an opponent in franchise history.
AL wild card: The Rangers have won three straight games but haven't picked up any ground on Tampa Bay or Cleveland. The Rays stayed two ahead of the Rangers with an 8-3 win at New York and the Indians beat the White Sox 7-2 to stay one game up on Texas.
Must-have inning: The Rangers trailed 3-1 before they erupted for five runs in the bottom of the fourth. Both Tampa Bay and Cleveland had comfortable leads in their games at the time. The Rangers loaded the bases after two were out. Jeff Baker had a single, Mitch Moreland had a walk and Craig Gentry was hit by a pitch. Leonys Martin then cleared the bases with a clutch line drive double into right field that got past L.J. Hoes to the wall. Ian Kinsler and Alex Rios later had RBI singles to extend the Rangers' lead to 6-3.
Laird homers for Astros: Brandon Laird -- Former Ranger Gerald Laird's brother -- flashed his power with a two-run home run to straightaway center field in the top of the fourth as Houston took a 3-1 lead. Martin got back to the wall and made a leaping effort but the ball eluded his glove and went over the fence for Laird's fifth home run.
Perez gets quality start: Rookie Martin Perez delivered a quality start despite giving up the lead in the top of the fourth. He went seven innings and gave up three runs and six hits. Perez won his 10th game of the season as he joined Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Matt Garza as double-digit winners this season.
Kinsler goes deep: Ian Kinsler added to the Rangers' lead with a solo shot to left field with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, giving Texas a 7-3 lead. It was Kinsler's first home run at Rangers Ballpark since July 3. He had four home runs on the road before finally going deep in Arlington.
Gentry reaches 20: Gentry stole his 20th base in the third inning, extending his career high. The Rangers have four players with 20 or more steals this season; the others are Elvis Andrus with 41, Rios with 40 (26 for the White Sox before he arrived in Texas) and Martin with 34.
Up next: The Rangers play their final four games of the regular season at home against the rival Los Angeles Angels. Even with the Halos eliminated, it will be an intense series. The Rangers will call on right-hander Garza (10-6, 3.90 ERA) against Angels right-hander Jerome Williams (9-10, 4.55) in the opener on Thursday night. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. 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.