Texas aims for its 10th victory in 11 games Friday night at Houston, where it has been dominant in recent years.
In second place since July 2, the Rangers (65-50) now find themselves in a virtual tie for the division lead with Oakland after winning four in a row following this week's sweep of the Los Angeles Angels . They've scored 64 runs during the current 9-1 stretch while batting .300 - .306 with runners in scoring position - with 16 homers and 15 doubles.
Texas had scored 36 runs while losing 12 of its previous 15.
"That's the place we were supposed to be," said Adrian Beltre , hitting .450 over his last 10 games with 12 RBIs. "I know Oakland's been playing well this season, but we assumed we would be there. We haven't won anything yet, but at least we're going in the right direction."
The Rangers have won seven of the season's nine meetings against Houston, with Beltre going 13 for 29 with four homers in the most recent seven. They've also taken five straight and 15 of 18 in Houston dating back to 2009.
The Astros (37-76) blew two saves against the Rangers earlier this year, a problem that has again haunted them more recently. Owners of the AL's worst save percentage at 54.8, Houston is 2 for 9 in save opportunities while going 4-15 since the All-Star break.
Josh Fields surrendered a three-run homer in the ninth in a 7-5 home loss to Boston on Wednesday, marking the club's 19th blown save. Houston has converted one save since trading closer Jose Veras to Detroit on July 29.
The Astros squandered 19 saves all of last season, while the club record is 26 in 2009.
"You put guys in situations where you feel they have the best opportunity to be successful, and tonight is another example of us just not getting it done," manager Bo Porter said.
Houston was already dominated once by Matt Garza with the Cubs earlier this season, and they'll get another chance against him with Texas. Garza (7-2, 3.09 ERA) yielded one run and four hits through eight innings of Chicago's 3-1 win over Houston on June 21, improving to 2-3 in seven starts against the Astros with a 3.88 ERA.
He had an eight-start unbeaten streak snapped his last time out despite his first complete game since 2011. Garza yielded three runs within his first 10 pitches in a 4-2 loss at Oakland on Saturday.
The Astros counter with Erik Bedard (3-8, 4.29), looking to avoid losing six straight decisions for the first time in his career. However, he has a 2.82 ERA over his last four starts with 28 strikeouts in 22 1-3 innings.
The left-hander is 5-5 with a 3.51 ERA over 18 career outings versus Texas but is 1-4 in the last 12. He's given up seven runs in 11 1-3 innings against the Rangers this year, including a pair of homers to Beltre.
One of them came in a 5-4 loss July 7, when A.J. Pierzynski had a three-run homer off Bedard and improved to 7 for 16 against him. Elvis Andrus , hitting .355 since the All-Star break, is just 3 for 18 with five strikeouts versus Bedard.
Houston rookie outfielder Robbie Grossman is batting .472 during a 10-game hitting streak.
Texas owns baseball's most intradivision wins with a 33-14 record against the AL West.
|August 03, 2013||Nelson Cruz||Day-to-Day||Lower body|
|July 12, 2013||Justin Grimm||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right forearm|
|July 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||15-Day DL||Upper back strain|
|July 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||15-Day DL||Upper back strain|
|July 07, 2013||Lance Berkman||15-Day DL||Left hip inflammation|
|July 06, 2013||Nick Tepesch||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|August 07, 2013||Jonathan Villar||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained hand|
|July 31, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|July 27, 2013||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left quad tightness|
|July 27, 2013||J.D. Martinez||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|July 23, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Left game - mild left calf strain|
|July 09, 2013||Ronny Cedeno||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left toe|
HOUSTON (AP) -- The Texas Rangers got hits from seven of their nine starters on Friday night, to the delight of manager Ron Washington .
"That's when we're at our best, when we get hits from everybody," Washington said.
Leonys Martin hit a two-run double in a four-run eighth inning, and the Rangers used the balanced attack to rally and tie a season high with their fifth straight victory, 9-5 over the Houston Astros .
Houston led by one entering the eighth before Adrian Beltre tied it with an RBI single off Josh Zeid (0-1). Wesley Wright 's two-out, bases-loaded walk of Jurickson Profar put the Rangers on top. Martin then belted a line drive to right field to score two and make it 7-4.
"Since we're playing so aggressively, that lead that they had didn't mean a lot to us," Martin said. "I think we're playing good baseball right now."
The Rangers have rebounded from a stretch where they lost 12 of 15 games to win 10 of their last 11 and move into a tie with Oakland for first place in the AL West.
Matt Garza (2-1) yielded seven hits and four runs with eight strikeouts in seven innings.
"Great team win," Garza said. "I stayed long enough in there to let the boys come back and pick it up. Sometimes you give up four and you get a win."
The Astros used five pitchers in the eighth inning alone, but it didn't help relieve their bullpen woes. Houston's relievers have given up the lead six times in the last 13 games and have blown six saves in that span.
"I personally feel sorry for our starters, but they are not going to show it because they are good teammates," manager Bo Porter said.
Jason Castro doubled and homered, and Brandon Barnes added a home run for the Astros, who lost for the seventh time in eight games.
Houston loaded the bases in the eighth inning, but came away empty-handed when Neal Cotts struck out pinch-hitter Marc Krauss to end the inning. He earned his first save.
Joey Butler had his first career hits on a pair of doubles for Texas in his first major league start.
"I'm real happy," Washington said in summing up the night. "The key is what's happening up and down the lineup. Tonight it was a big walk by Joey Butler , another big walk by Profar; it was a battle by Martin against a lefty to deliver."
Butler's second double came with one out in the seventh inning. Profar's RBI single got Texas within 4-3 before Houston starter Erik Bedard ended his night by striking out Martin.
Ian Kinsler walked to start the eighth and stole second base. The Rangers tied it at 4-all with Beltre's RBI single to shallow center field which chased Zeid.
Josh Fields intentionally walked pinch-hitter David Murphy with two outs before walking Butler to load the bases and bring on Wright.
Things looked good for the Astros early. Castro's 445-foot homer to the second deck in right field to start the second put Houston up 1-0.
Singles by Kinsler and A. J. Pierzynski sandwiched around a walk by Beltre loaded the bases in the fourth inning. A sacrifice fly by Jeff Baker tied it at 1 before a sacrifice bunt sent Beltre home to put Texas up 2-1.
Garza had retired six in a row before L.J. Hoes doubled to start Houston's fourth. A double by Jose Altuve sent Hoes home to make it 2-all.
Castro's 31st double, which bounced off the wall in left-center, scored Altuve to put Houston up 3-2. Barnes homered to start the fifth for a two-run lead.
Bedard allowed seven hits and three runs in 6 2-3 innings and is winless since June 26.
Houston's inexperience was painfully evident in the ninth inning, when Pierzynski bunted and rookie pitcher Jorge De Leon scooped up the ball and looked at Kinsler on third before throwing to first. As soon as De Leon looked away, Kinsler dashed home ahead of the throw to make it 8-4.
Murphy had an RBI double later in the ninth.
NOTES: The Rangers acquired OF Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox on Friday. He will join the team on Saturday. ... Texas DH Lance Berkman , who has been on the DL since July 7 with left hip inflammation and also experienced pain in his surgically repaired right knee, will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday. ... Houston SS Jonathan Villar was out of the lineup for a second straight game with a sprained left thumb. Porter said he will not go on the DL, but he isn't sure when he'll play. "He's going to take batting practice and go through the whole routine and we will re-evaluate it after to see what degree of soreness if any and then move forward from there," Porter said. ... The series continues on Saturday when Texas left-hander Derek Holland opposes Brad Peacock .