Aledmys Diaz hit his second career grand slam, and Gerrit Cole struck out a season-high 12 in six innings to help the Houston Astros record an 11-4 victory over the visiting Texas Rangers on Saturday night. Michael Brantley also homered, and Robinson Chirinos had two RBIs and scored twice as Houston beat the Rangers for the third straight night. The Astros, who scored 10 of their runs with two outs, have won seven of their past eight games.
Texas has lost 12 of its last 17 games. Ronald Guzman hit a three-run homer, and Hunter Pence smacked a solo shot for the Rangers, who struck out 18 times against four Houston pitchers. The Astros played without second baseman Jose Altuve, who injured his left hamstring during Friday's contest and is expected to be placed on the injured list. Cole (4-4) gave up one run, four hits and walked none while winning his third consecutive start. He struck out at least two batters in each of the first five innings. Texas left-hander Drew Smyly (0-3) gave up five runs (four earned) and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out three.
Smyly entered in the second inning after right-hander Jesse Chavez opened and threw a perfect first. Smyly walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, including the last two batters he faced before being pulled with two out. Right-hander Kyle Dowdy entered, and his 0-1 curveball was slugged over the left-field fence by Diaz to give Houston a 6-1 lead. Guzman blasted a three-run homer to right in the seventh off right-hander Chris Devenski to bring Texas within two. The Astros got the three runs back in the bottom of the inning on Tyler White's RBI single and Chirinos' two-run single. Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel delivered run-scoring singles in the eighth to make it 11-4 as Houston improved to 15-4 at home.
The Rangers got on the board in the second when Pence sent a 2-2 fastball over the fence in right field, a shot that barely cleared the leap of Houston's Josh Reddick. The homer was Pence's fourth in the past five games. The Astros tied the score in the fourth when Brantley drilled a 1-0 fastball on a low line that narrowly made it over the fence in right. Reddick's RBI single to center in the fifth gave the Astros a 2-1 advantage. The Rangers had two on with two out in the top of the sixth, but Cole struck out Joey Gallo to complete his outing.
(With inputs from agencies.)