Justin Verlander must have been stunned when Shin-Soo Choo clocked him for a lead-off homer in the first inning but he did not have to worry. The offense had his back and rallied for four runs in the second which was all they'd need in a 7-3 triumph over the Rangers at the Broilpark Friday night.
Harris, McCann: Final out
(c) Associated Press
Houston batters teed off on former Astro Doug Fister in the second on RBI singles from Marwin Gonzalez and Tony Kemp followed by a two-run double into the left field corner by George Springer.
The last-place Rangers weren't done. Nomar Mazara spanked a two-run double in the third to close to gap to one but Alex Bregman crushed a pitch to dead center out onto the Grassy Knoll. Jose Altuve finished the scoring in the seventh when he smashed an opposite field drive with Bregman aboard that bounced on top of the outfield fence and bounded over the Rangers bullpen for a 7-3 advantage.
Fister (1-7) gave up five runs, six hits and two walks over five frames. By contrast, Verlander (8-2) lasted six innings in the heat, giving up three runs, five hits and three walks while fanning nine. Collin McHugh and Will Harris tossed three innings of hitless relief to close it out.
Josh Reddick had his first real action since returning from the disabled list. He went 0-for-3 with a run scored. Catcher Brian McCann also returned from the disabled list and was 1-for-4 while behind the plate. Sent down in recent days have been Derek Fisher, J.D. Davis and Tim Federowicz.
Houston, at 40-25, is still a game behind Seattle in the AL West chase. They'll send Charlie Morton (7-1) to start in Saturday's 6:15 pm Central contest against lefthander Mike Minor (4-4). Minor is 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA in eight appearances (five starts) against Houston.
- Bob Hulsey