Remember those bullpen meltdowns the Astros suffered last year? They seem to be back. After grabbing a 5-0 lead Saturday, Houston watched a home run fest by the Rangers tie the game and then lose in the tenth inning, 6-5, at Minute Maid Park. A crowd of 40,679 witnessed as well as a national television audience.
Gurriel: Celebrates first homer.
(c) Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle
The defeat sunk Houston 2-1/2 games behind the Angels of Anaheim in the AL West. The Angels won their seventh straight on Saturday while Houston has lost three of their last four.
There was no score between Charlie Morton and Mike Minor through the first 3-1/2 innings. That changed when the Astros loaded the bases off Minor in the fourth. Carlos Correa drilled a two-run double to left before Yuli Gurriel smashed a three-run homer into the Crawfords for a 5-0 advantage. It was Gurriel's first home run in his second game of the season.
Morton was in control but it slowly faded. Isiah Kiner-Falefa cracked a 1-2 pitch into the Crawfords in the fifth for his first big league homer then old nemesis Adrian Beltre launched a solo homer into right-center in the sixth to shrink the lead to three. Morton exited after six innings, allowing the two runs on six hits while striking out a dozen. His ERA for the season still stands at 1.00.
Hector Rondon had an easy seventh inning but Brad Peacock may have found his limit in terms of everyday relief. With a runner aboard in the eighth, Joey Gallo hooked a fly down the right field line that plunked inside the fowl pole for two runs then Ronald Guzman swatted a liner into the stands on a similar arc to tie the game. It was Guzman's first big league homer too.
Ken Giles kept the Rangers scoreless in the ninth but Will Harris struggled in the tenth. With the bases full and the infield shifted, Guzman lashed a shot back up the middle that Harris deflected to where Correa would normally have been. Instead, Correa had played behind second and could not retrieve the ball until Jurickson Profar scored with the winning run.
The Astros had one last breath. Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve singled against reliever Chris Martin in the tenth. With nobody out, Correa tapped back to Martin who retired the lead runner at third. Gurriel lined out to third before Alex Claudio was summoned to get the last out. Josh Reddick tapped out to first to end the 3-1/2 hour ordeal.
The two clubs will spar again Sunday night before ESPN cameras in the rubber game of the series. Justin Verlander (2-0) will seek to quiet the sputtering Rangers as he did on Opening Day. Ancient Bartolo Colon will pitch for Arlington in the 7:08 p.m. Central duel. Houston currently owns a 4-2 lead in the Silver Boot Series.
- Bob Hulsey