ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) The Texas Rangers announced their return to contention with the first big move of trading season.
The Houston Astros offered a reminder of where any path to the title might have to go.
Mauricio Dubón lined a go-ahead, two-run double in the sixth inning, and the Astros beat the Rangers 5-3 on Friday night to open a series matching Texas rivals atop the AL West.
Not long before the first pitch, the division-leading Rangers, coming off six consecutive losing seasons, acquired once-dominant closer Aroldis Chapman in a trade with Kansas City.
Jose Altuve crushed that first pitch from Jon Gray for a game-opening homer, but the defending World Series champion Astros fell behind 3-1 on back-to-back solo home runs from two of Texas' four All-Star starters, Josh Jung and Jonah Heim.
Houston, which has won five of the past six division titles and two championships in that span, had cut the deficit to one when Dubón sent a liner past the rookie Jung at third base after José Abreu and Yainer Diaz opened the sixth with consecutive singles.
“We're a good team,” Dubón said after the Astros pulled within four games of the Rangers a night after a 14-0 victory in St. Louis. “We know what we can do. It's a long year. Just continue doing what we're doing.”
Four Houston relievers retired 12 of 13 Texas batters after rookie starter Ronel Blanco (2-0) allowed three runs with four hits, four walks and two home runs in five innings. Closer Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save.
“They have a good bullpen,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know you have your hands full. They do a good job late in the ballgame. That’s what they’re known for.”
Gray (6-4) had his second rough outing in four appearances since winning five consecutive starts, allowing seven hits and five runs in six innings.
Altuve's fifth homer in an injury-shortened season was a straightaway shot for his 34th career leadoff homer, and longest this season at 421 feet. He added an RBI with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
“It’s deja-Altuve,” manager Dusty Baker said about the homer. “We’ve seen it a whole bunch of times.”
WINS AND LOSSES
The Astros, who weren't in first in the AL West at the halfway point of a full season for the first time since 2016, wrapped up their first losing month since 2020 with a victory. Houston was 13-14 in June.
The Rangers won two of three in the first series with their rivals for their first series victory in Houston since 2018.
The homers by Jung and Heim were the fourth back-to-back this season for the Rangers. The past two have been from that pair. Jung, probably the favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year, has 17 homers. Heim has 12.
Astros: SS Jeremy Peña was out of the lineup with a stiff neck. Manager Dusty Baker said he was hopeful for a Saturday return.
Rangers: RHP Glenn Otto (right shoulder strain) was activated from the 60-day injured list and pitched a perfect ninth inning in his first outing of the season. Utility man Brad Miller (right oblique strain) came off the 10-day IL. LHP John King, RHP Yerry Rodríguez and C Sam Huff were sent to Triple-A Round Rock.
Astros RHP Hunter Brown (6-4, 3.62 ERA) faces Rangers RHP Nathan Eovaldi (9-3, 2.82) in the second game of the four-game series. Brown hasn't allowed an earned in 13 innings over two career starts against Texas. Eovaldi can become the second 10-game winner in the AL.
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