Astros finally solve Rangers
Musgrove solid in 8-4 win

Springer & Hernandez play long ball
(c) Houston Chronicle

Joe Musgrove delivered an outstanding performance on the mound, helping the Astros to overcome the Ranger bugaboo in an 8-4 victory at home Wednesday night. But the win was a costly one as Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman both had to leave the game early due to injury. Marwin Gonzalez filled in defensively, bouncing from position to position on the infield and helped the cause on offense with two RBIs.

The Rangers got on the scoreboard in the top of the first, making the most of Ian Desmond's infield single that travelled approximately 15 feet down the first-base line. Carlos Beltran drove Desmond home with a line drive double to right, but the lead wouldn't last long.

George Springer led off the bottom of the first with a home run off Derek Holland. Springer's team-leading 27th dinger of the season put an end to an 0-for-16 slump and gave the team some much needed momentum against their toughest opponent.

Teoscar Hernandez smashed a 2-run homer in the second to give the Astros the lead. Musgrove breezed through the middle innings, retiring nine straight batters with a combination of well-placed fastballs, sliders, and change-ups.

The Astros played add-on in the sixth. Yulieski Gurriel and Evan Gattis delivered run-scoring hits to stretch the lead to 5-1. But the Rangers got back in the game in the seventh when they finally broke through against Musgrove. A 1-out walk to Jurickson Profar pushed Musgrove over the 100-pitch mark. Nomar Mazarra followed with a blast to right-center to narrow the gap to 5-3 and send Musgrove to the showers.

Pat Neshek answered the call to the bullpen and was able to navigate around a Tony Kemp error to finish off the seventh inning with no further damage. Will Harris gave up a run in the eighth and, suddenly, it was a 1-run game.

The Astros broke it open in the bottom of the eighth. Tyler White led off with an infield single and, one out later, Gurriel laced a double to left. After Gattis was intentionally walked to load the bases, Marwin Gonzalez drove in a pair of runs with a ground ball single to right. Jake Marisnick added a single up the middle to score Gattis and extend the lead to 8-4.

Chris Devenski struck out two in a scoreless ninth to seal the victory in the final regular season meeting between the division rivals. The 'Stros get a much needed day off on Thursday before beginning a 3-game series in Seattle on Friday. Altuve (right oblique) and Bregman (right hamstring) are both doubtful for the 9:10 CDT opener.

- Greg Thurston