Collin McHugh worked three shutout innings Wednesday and hung on while Evan Gattis delivered the game-winning blow and Ken Giles got the save in a 5-4, 10-inning triumph over the Rangers to move 1-1/2 games into the lead in the AL West. Buoyed by news that Anaheim had snapped Seattle's eight-game winning streak, the Astros roared back from an early 4-0 deficit to tie and eventually outlast their cross-state rivals.
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It was a another tough outing for Gerrit Cole. Robinson Chirinos doubled off Cole in the second to plate Jurickson Profar for the game's first run. Shin-Soo Choo homered in the third then Profar singled home a run and scored on a double from Rougned Odor. That put the Astros behind by four.
Houston got off the mat in the fourth when Josh Reddick drilled a two-run homer off Mike Minor then Alex Bregman poked a bases-loaded single to narrow the deficit to 4-3. Yuli Gurriel smacked a solo homer in the fifth to tie the game.
Both bullpens were stellar. Three Ranger relievers tossed a combined three frames of one-hit ball which were offset by a scoreless inning from Will Harris and then three innings by McHugh.
Jose Altuve, saddled with an 0-for-13 slump, singled with one out in the tenth against Chris Martin. Gurriel was hit by a pitch then a wild pickoff throw advanced the runners. Gattis lifted a fly to right-center that chased home Altuve from third with the go-ahead run.
Giles fanned two of the three batters he faced as Houston ran their season series against the Rangers to 12-4 with three games left to play in Houston at the end of July.
McHugh has been an unsung hero this season, posting a 4-0 mark with a 0.90 ERA while biding his time until a hole in the rotation develops. To be honest, it's rare for a five-man staff to go three months without any pitcher needing some time off. McHugh has been an insurance policy the Astros have yet to cash.
After a 3-3 road trip, the Astros return home to open a four-game weekend set with the Chicago White Sox. Justin Verlander (9-4), coming off his worst start of the season, pitches the opener for the Astros against lefthander Carlos Rodon (1-3) in the 7:10 pm Central contest.
The 30-56 ChiSox are in the midst of a rebuilding campaign after trading away many of their top players last year.
- Bob Hulsey