ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) The Houston Astros know they are in for quite a fight to overtake their instate rival to win another AL West title.
They won this round, even after blowing an eight-run lead on Monday.
José Abreu and Chas McCormick had back-to-back RBI doubles in the ninth inning in a wild 12-11 win for the second-place Astros over the division-leading Texas Rangers to take three of four games in the series.
“It gives us momentum. Obviously we've got a long way to go,” said McCormick, who had the game-winning hit for the second day in a row. “That team's going to play better too, so we have to come every day ready to play.”
Just past the halfway point of the regular season, the Astros (47-38) moved within three games of the division lead. That's the closest they have been in a month after trailing by as many as 6 1/2 games.
“That's huge," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “That's what we wanted. We wanted three out of four, or all of them.”
The Rangers (50-35), in first place for all but one day this season, have lost 15 of their past 25 games. They haven't had a winning season since their most recent division title in 2016 - Houston has since gone to four World Series, winning two of them, and won five of the six AL West titles.
“A lot of baseball left,” first-year Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “We keep fighting like that, and we’ll be fine. ... We have to put this series behind us. Very intense series, very intense game.”
Abreu and McCormick, whose three-run triple in the eighth inning Sunday was the difference in a 5-3 win, also homered earlier for Houston. Abreu's three-run shot in the fourth made it 10-2.
Kyle Tucker, who hit Houston's majors-best eighth grand slam in the second inning for a 6-0 lead, led off the ninth with a single against Rangers closer Will Smith (1-3), who had only his second blown save in 16 chances. Abreu and McCormack then followed Alex Bregman's deep flyout with their doubles.
Tucker’s fourth career slam with one out in the second chased Texas starter Martín Pérez, who has given up 16 homers already after allowing only 11 during his All-Star season last year. That inning opened with McCormick and Yainer Diaz hitting back-to-back homers.
The Rangers had taken their only lead on Corey Seager's sacrifice fly that made it 11-10 in the eighth, right after newly acquired reliever Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect top of the inning for them.
Bryan Abreu (3-2), the fifth Houston pitcher, allowed that run in the eighth before Ryan Pressly worked the ninth for his 18th save in 21 tries.
Travis Jankowski had three hits and a career-high five RBIs for the Rangers. A three-run homer in the fourth broke his 153-game homerless drought, then an inning later he had a two-run single in a four-run outburst that got them within 10-9.
All-Star right fielder Adolis García's 21st homer, a solo shot in the seventh, tied the game at 10. His 69th RBI putting him in the MLB lead at that point. Leody Taveras, who scored on Seager's sac fly, hit a two-run homer in the third.
“We started off strong and they never backed down,” Tucker said. “We were able to find a way to get the win, so that's all that really matters.”
Or as McCormick put it, “That was a grind.”
Texas scored multiple runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings against Astros starter Cristian Javier, who had his fifth consecutive no-decision after winning five starts in a row. The right-hander who has a 7-1 record allowed eight runs and nine hits over 4 1/3 innings - he had given up 18 runs over 10 2/3 innings his past three starts. ... It was the shortest outing for Pérez in his 49 starts since rejoining the Rangers before last season after three years away.
Astros: All-Star slugger Yordan Alvarez went through some outfield drill s, a day after he took swings in the batting cage for the first time since being sidelined by a right oblique strain nearly a month ago. ... SS Jeremy Peña missed the entire series with neck stiffness, but took some groundballs and was set to hit in the cage.
All four games of the series were sold out, the longest consecutive sellout streak for the Rangers at home since five in a row during the 2012 season, when they were coming off back-to-back World Series appearances. The total attendance for the series was 158,070.
Astros: After going 6-4 on its season-long 10-game road trip, Houston has a two-game set against Colorado.
Rangers: Dane Dunning (7-1, 2.69 ERA) pitches Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Boston.
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