HOUSTON — Justin Verlander kept up his outstanding season with one of his toughest wins.
Verlander struck out 12 in six solid innings, four Houston players hit solo home runs and the Astros held on to beat the Texas Rangers 4-3.
Verlander (12-4) allowed two runs and eight hits.
“That was a grind, it was tough, those guys battled me all night,” Verlander said. “The box score doesn’t show how tough they battled me, but every single one of them was difficult. They had a lot of guys on base every inning, it wasn’t easy, so I’m pleased to come away with the W.”
The right-hander struck out at least 11 for the fourth time this season and improved to 4-0 against the Rangers this season.
“It’s hard to describe how hard he had to work to get through his innings and how much they were making him work,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “He was punching guys out and he had a pretty clean line but that didn’t tell the whole story of what it took to get through this game.”
Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez led off the third inning with consecutive home runs to extend Houston’s lead to 4-0. Altuve hit his homer to left-centre field, and Bregman sent his to left on the next pitch before Alvarez hit a 474-foot monster shot into the second deck in right field.
“I think any time we can put together at bats we are going to have a good chance to win,” Bregman said. “We did that tonight.”
It was the first time the Astros had hit three straight homers since June, 20, 2018, against Tampa Bay.
Yuli Gurriel led off the second with a solo shot to left.
Roberto Osuna pitched the ninth for his 21st save.
Rougned Odor and Asdrúbal Cabrera hit consecutive solo home runs in the sixth for Texas to cut Houston’s lead to 4-2, and Shin-Soo Choo scored on Elvis Andrus’ groundout in the seventh to pull within one.
The Rangers have lost five straight. Texas stranded 11 runners and was 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
“That’s the nature of the business when you have a quality team and have quality pitching,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “We have a resilient bunch and they’re going to be in a lot of games, but unfortunately, you’re going to fall short at times.”
Mike Minor (8-5) allowed four runs and seven hits with 10 strikeouts in seven innings. Minor, who tied a career-high allowing four home runs, retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced.
“It was just a matter of that third inning,” Minor said. “I thought my stuff was a lot better. My slider was still flat. I was throwing a lot of pitches that were really, really close, and I wasn’t getting the calls. I’m not saying they were strikes, but they were close. It took a lot of pitches and I fell in some holes early.”
The Rangers moved RHP Jesse Chavez from the rotation to the bullpen and called up LHP Joe Palumbo from Triple-A Nashville to start Monday’s game in Seattle. Chavez (3-5, 4.72) was pulled in the first inning of his last start on Wednesday after giving up seven runs in 2/3 innings. In three appearances earlier this season, including two starts, Palumbo allowed 11 runs in nine innings.
The Astros designated 1B Tyler White for assignment following the game.
Rangers: RHP Edinson Volquez (right elbow sprain) is scheduled to throw a bullpen in Arizona on Saturday. … RHP Kyle Dowdy (right elbow impingement) allowed two runs on four hits in 2/3 innings in a relief outing Thursday as part of his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Nashville.
Astros: RHP Brad Peacock (shoulder discomfort) might be able to start playing catch this weekend, Hinch said. Peacock was set to come off the injured list, but suffered a setback after throwing a bullpen session on Saturday. He has been out since late June. … INF Aledmys Díaz (hamstring) continued his rehabilitation assignment Friday night at Double-A Corpus Christi, while SS Carlos Correa (ribs) had the day off.
RHP Ariel Jurado (5-5, 4.63 ERA) is scheduled to make his 21st appearance and 11th start of the season for the Rangers on Saturday. Jurado has allowed 11 runs over two innings in two July starts. RHP Jose Urquidy (0-0, 10.50) will be recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to make the start for Houston.