EditorsNote: Adds Fister injury details in final graf
Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve delivered two-out insurance home runs while Justin Verlander worked six solid innings in the Houston Astros’ 7-3 win over the host Texas Rangers on Friday at Globe Life Park.
The Astros earned at least a split of the four-game series thanks in part to their power surge. After mounting a four-run rally in the top of the second inning, Houston needed the blasts from Bregman and Altuve to fend off the Rangers, after they sliced the 4-1 deficit to 4-3.
Bregman clubbed his eighth homer with two outs in the fifth immediately after Rangers right-hander Doug Fister (1-7) induced a double-play grounder from George Springer to erase a leadoff walk to Tony Kemp.
Bregman belted the first pitch of the at-bat out to center field, extending the Houston lead to 5-3.
Verlander (8-2) surrendered a leadoff homer to Shin-Soo Choo, his 11th, in the first inning and appeared on the verge of coughing up his 4-1 lead in the bottom of the third after surrendering a two-out, two-run double to Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara. But Verlander rallied to strike out Adrian Beltre.
Although he labored to the finish line, Verlander allowed just three runs over six innings, recording nine strikeouts against five hits and three walks. He threw 110 pitches, including 68 strikes.
The Rangers managed a baserunner apiece in the fourth and fifth innings, and two more in the sixth but failed to scratch across a fourth run off Verlander. Texas stranded five.
Altuve socked his fifth homer the opposite way to right-center off Matt Bush in the seventh, driving home Bregman and extending the lead to four runs. Altuve, Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez each finished 2-for-4. Bregman walked and scored twice.
Gattis started the four-run rally off Fister in the second inning with a leadoff single. He later scored the tying run when Gonzalez delivered an RBI single to right. Tony Kemp drove in Josh Reddick, who had walked behind Gattis, with a single, and Gonzalez came home just ahead of Kemp when Springer capped the outburst with a double to left.
Fister allowed five runs on six hits over five innings. He departed with a right knee injury in the sixth and will be re-evaluated Saturday.
—Field Level Media