In the second battle of the Cole War, Gerrit outpitched Hamels Thursday night in a 5-2 victory to open a four-game weekend series at Global Warming Park in Arlington. Under overcast 78-degree skies, Gerrit Cole expanded his record to 7-1 by tossing six innings of three-hit ball then held his breath as Will Harris and Ken Giles gave the Rangers a chance to get back into the game.
Cole: Six strong
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The victory allowed Houston to stay on pace with Seattle who remains a game ahead of the Astros in the AL West standings. The defending champs are also 7-4 in this year's race for the Silver Boot.
Cole took a little time to get untracked, putting three of the first four batters aboard and giving up the first run of the game but then was sharp the rest of the night.
His mound opponent, lefty Cole Hamels who once used his no-trade clause to turn down a trade to Houston, had allowed four runs before Gerrit called it a night.
The key frame was the fourth when Alex Bregman poked a one-out double to left and Jose Altuve spanked a base hit to tie the score at one apiece. Evan Gattis picked on a hanging breaking pitch to deposit a two-run blow into the left field stands for a 3-1 edge. Gattis drove home Altuve a second time in the seventh with a single to center. Bregman completed the scoring with a solo shot to left.
Robinson Chirinos got the final tally with an RBI double off Ken Giles in the ninth.
Bregman, Altuve, Gattis and the replacement at shortstop for injured Carlos Correa, Marwin Gonzalez totaled all nine Houston hits, scoring and driving in all five scores. Correa was held out as a precaution after an injury to his right side on Wednesday.
Justin Verlander (7-2) will start the second game of the series on Friday night when he challenges ex-Astro Doug "Twisted" Fister (1-6) in a 7:05 pm Central contest. This will be Justin's fourth start against the Rangers already this season, where he is 1-1 with an 0.90 ERA although the Astros dropped two of his three starts.
- Bob Hulsey