Error Allows Astros To Nip Rangers, 3-2

Fisher (r): Speeding for home
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
Four solo homers, evenly divided, left a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the eighth Friday night. With Derek Fisher on first, pinch-running for Evan Gattis, Marwin Gonzalez cracked a 1-2 pitch into center field. Drew Robinson misplayed the hop and was forced to run the ball down towards the fence. Fisher scored easily and Gonzalez sped to third. That was the difference in a 3-2 Houston victory before 32,129 at Minute Maid.

George Springer came to life with a pair of solo home runs. All three of his homers so far this season have been solo shots off Cole Hamels. One happened in the first as the leadoff hitter and flew into the right field stands. The other came in the fifth and sailed into the corner of the bullpen.

Gerrit Cole had allowed just one hit and struck out 12 through the first six frames, enjoying total dominance. The seventh was a different story. Joey Gallo launched a home run just to the right of the hitters backdrop in center field to cut the lead in half. One out later, Robinson Chirinos sent a drive over the Crawfords to tie the contest. Both Coles left the game with no decisions.

That set the scene for the fatal flaw in the eighth. Chris Devenski chalked up his first save of the year while Joe Smith picked up his first win as an Astro.

Yuli Gurriel came back from the disabled list to go 1-for-4 in his first regular season game this year. Besides Springer, Gonzalez and Brian McCann delivered two hits each.

Saturday's middle game will be at 3:05 p.m. Central for national television. Lefthander Mike Minor (1-1) will pitch for the Rangers against Charlie Morton (2-0) who has been almost as dominant as Cole. The Astros were unable to make ground on the Angels on Friday and remain 1-1/2 games out despite a 10-4 record.

- Bob Hulsey