Chirinos hits 2-run homer as Rangers beat Astros 11-2
HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas Rangers capped a difficult day with a big win over their in-state rival on Friday night.
Robinson Chirinos hit a two-run homer and Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jurickson Profar added solo shots as the Rangers romped to a lopsided 11-2 win over the Houston Astros on a day Texas dealt veteran left-hander Cole Hamels to the Cubs in what could be just the first of several moves to come.
The victory snapped a franchise-long eight-game losing streak to the Astros and ended a four-game skid overall.
“Our core group of guys, they continue to play, those offensive guys continue to battle every night ... they understand it was a challenging day losing one of their leaders, just a great pitcher for us and a great human being and teammate,” manager Jeff Banister said. “However, they understand the business of the game of baseball and I was proud they went out and had great energy and played.”
The Rangers led by a run in the fifth inning with two out and one on when Chirinos sent a fastball from Dallas Keuchel (8-9) onto the train tracks atop left field to make it 3-0. It was the first homer Keuchel had allowed since giving up three to the Mariners on June 5.
Shin-Soo Cho hit an RBI triple in the sixth and the Rangers made it 5-0 when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Profar.
Evan Gattis hit his 20th homer in the seventh inning for Houston’s first run on a night the team played without reigning American League MVP Jose Altuve, who sat out after leaving Wednesday’s game with a sore right knee. The Astros managed just six hits and were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
“That was not a great night for us on both sides,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “On the offensive side, as the game went on, I thought we had little bit better at bats and broke through a little bit. Clearly not enough.”
Kiner-Falefa’s shot to the seats in left field came in the eighth inning to make it 6-1.
Texas starter Yovani Gallardo (5-1) allowed two hits while walking four in 5 1-3 scoreless innings for his second straight win.
“I think we caught them on a night when their offense was a little stalemated I think due to what Yovani was able to do,” Banister said. “I thought just a masterful job by Yo.”
Keuchel gave up six hits and three runs in five innings to end a season-long five-game winning streak. The left-hander had bounced back from a tough start to the season and had pitched well lately, allowing just four runs combined in his previous four starts.
Profar’s homer came on the first pitch of a ninth inning where the Rangers tacked on five more runs to extend the lead to 11-1.
Chirinos doubled to start the second inning before a one-out single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa sent him to third. The Rangers took a 1-0 lead when Chirinos slid in just before Max Stassi could apply the tag on a sacrifice bunt by Carlos Tocci.
Rangers: OF Ryan Rua was scratched about 25 minutes before the game because of back spasms.
Astros: Hinch said Altuve is day-to-day and wasn’t sure if he’d return to the lineup on Saturday. “He’s still pretty sore and we’re going to hold him out as a precautionary measure,” Hinch said. “I don’t know what that means for this series or anything more than today.” ... SS Carlos Correa, who hasn’t played since June 25 because of back soreness, said he’s feeling better and the team hopes he’s getting close beginning a rehabilitation assignment.
The Astros added bullpen help Friday night when they traded for Minnesota right-hander Ryan Pressly. Houston sent two prospects — right-hander Jorge Alcala and outfielder Gilberto Celestino — to the Twins. The 29-year-old Pressley is 1-1 with a 3.40 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 51 appearances this season. He adds depth in the bullpen to a team that sent closer Ken Giles to the minors earlier this month after he struggled most of the season. Pressly has spent his entire six-year career with the Twins, where he’s 17-16 with a 3.75 ERA in 281 games.
Houston optioned LHP Cionel Perez to Triple-A Fresno to make a spot for Pressly on the roster.
Texas right-hander Ariel Jurado (0-1, 7.71 ERA) will start on Saturday in place of Hamels on Friday. Justin Verlander (10-5, 2.19) will start for Houston after striking out 11 in six scoreless innings in a 7-0 win over the Angels in his last start.
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