ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cole Hamels pitched seven scoreless innings, Elvis Andrus scored each time after his three hits and the Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 6-4 Friday night, the fourth straight loss for the team with the AL's best record.
Hamels (7-1) limited the Astros to three singles only six days after the lefty's complete game against Minnesota. Two of those were infield hits, including Jose Altuve's comebacker that ricocheted off his left knee and into foul territory in the fourth.
Houston (71-44) has lost 10 of 13, but still has a six-game lead over Boston for the American League's top mark. Two-time defending AL West champion Texas is still 15 1/2 games back and is fourth in the division.
Alex Claudio got Altuve, who leads the majors in hitting, to look at strike three with runners on first and second for the final out.
The Rangers went ahead to stay with four runs in the third off Charlie Morton (9-5), whose fielding error on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases with no outs. Andrus and Nomar Mazara followed with consecutive RBI singles, and Carlos Gomez drove in two with a single up the middle after Adrian Beltre and slugger Joey Gallo both struck out.
Andrus led off the fifth with a single and scored on a double by Beltre, his second hit of the game and 3,010th of his career. Andrus doubled and scored on Mazara's single in the seventh to make it 6-0.
Hamels struck out five and walked two, improving to 29-7 in his 58 starts with the Rangers since being traded from Philadelphia two years ago. He is 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA in seven home starts this season, when he missed nearly two months with a right oblique strain.
Reliever Jose Leclerc walked the No. 9 hitter leading off the eighth before George Springer's 28th homer. After a double-play grounder and a walk, Claudio took over and gave up consecutive RBI doubles to Marwin Gonzalez and Carlos Beltran before right fielder Mazara's shoestring catch of Brian McCann's liner to end the inning.
Astros: Manager A.J. Hinch said RHP Lance McCullers Jr., out since July 31 because of a back issue, is throwing long toss and has no physical issues playing catch. He isn't throwing off a mound yet. ... C Evan Gattis isn't in Arlington even though he is eligible to be activated Saturday from the 7-day concussion list. Gattis hasn't resumed baseball activities.
Rangers: Reliever Keone Kela will be re-assessed by doctors before the team decides his next step. He has been on the disabled list a week with a recurrence of right shoulder soreness after also being on the DL last month.
Astros: RHP Mike Fiers, makes his team-high 23rd start, but is 0-2 with a 7.16 ERA in his last three starts. He struck out nine against Texas on May 2, but allowed four homers in six innings and got a no-decision.
Rangers: RHP Tyson Ross (2-2, 7.52) is expected to be activated from the DL to make his first start since July 23. He made two rehab starts at Double-A Frisco after a blister on his right index finger.
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