ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Justin Verlander struck out 11 to win his fifth straight start since getting traded to Houston, major league batting leader Jose Altuve reached 200 hits for the fourth season in a row, and the AL West champion Astros completed a dominating three-game sweep by routing the Texas Rangers 12-2 on Wednesday.
Carlos Correa hit two home runs and George Springer had a grand slam as Houston (98-60) outscored Texas 37-7 in the series. The Astros are trying to catch Cleveland for the best record in the American League — the Central champion Indians began the day at 98-59.
Correa went deep in consecutive innings, hitting a solo shot in the fifth and a two-run homer soon after Springer’s slam in a seven-run sixth. Correa had four hits and drove in four runs.
The Rangers (76-82), who had won the AL West the past two seasons, lost their sixth straight game and ensured themselves a losing record for only the second time in nine seasons. They were eliminated from the wild-card race Tuesday night.
Verlander (15-8) matched his season high for strikeouts while allowing two runs without a walk in six innings. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA in his five starts since being traded from Detroit to Houston on Aug. 31.
Willie Calhoun and Drew Robinson hit solo homers off Verlander. It was the first career homer for Calhoun, the young outfielder who was the main piece the Rangers got back when they traded Yu Darvish to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31.
Altuve, who is hitting .347, got his 200th hit on a single in the first off Nick Martinez (3-8), who gave up six runs and 10 hits pitching into the sixth.
The Astros second baseman is only the fourth right-handed hitter in major league history with four consecutive 200-hit seasons. The last was Michael Young, with five in a row for Texas from 2003-07. Altuve has a chance to be the first player to lead the AL or NL in hits outright four consecutive seasons.
Astros: OF Josh Reddick, who didn’t play in the Rangers series because of a sore back, is likely to return to the lineup Thursday in Boston.
Rangers: A day after Texas was eliminated from playoff contention, 3B Adrian Beltre (strained left hamstring), CF Carlos Gomez (right ankle) and catcher Robinson Chirinos (hamstring) were out of the lineup. They all are likely done for the season.
Astros: Brad Peacock (12-2) pitches Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at AL East-leading Boston, a matchup of teams that could meet again in the AL Division Series next week.
Rangers: The final homestand of the season, a four-game series against last-place Oakland, starts Thursday night.