HOUSTON -- Evan Gattis, Brian McCann and Carlos Correa all homered, but the story was Charlie Morton, who was pitching on extra rest. He hurled seven strong innings with a career-high 14 strikeouts, lifting the Astros to a 6-1 win over the Rangers on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. The Astros, who evened the three-game series, had been shut out in three of their previous four home games.
Morton (5-0) is the only Houston starter without a loss this season and he was superb, allowing no walks and only four hits while dominating the Rangers. The right-hander exceeded double-digit strikeouts for the third time this season, his second time doing so against Texas.
"He had everything working," said McCann, who caught Morton, and whose homer to right-center into the Houston bullpen in the fourth put the Astros ahead 2-1. "He's pretty much had it all year, we're talking about a month and a half now. He threw the ball extremely well. He's picking up where he's left off. It's been a pleasure to catch and watch."
"I thought he was good and that's the biggest understatement of the night. I thought he was great," said Astros manager AJ Hinch.
In lowering his season ERA to 2.03, Morton extended his career-long win streak to eight games, dating back to Sept. 15, 2017. Of his 14 strikeouts, Joey Gallo was a victim three times. Of Morton's 105 pitches, 66 were strikes and he constantly was in a pitcher's count.
"I threw a lot of curveballs and it worked. And I felt like my fastball was pretty good," said Morton, who threw 45 curveballs and didn't face much resistance against the Rangers, who managed only four hits off Morton and none against Will Harris and Collin McHugh in the eighth and ninth, respectively.
Morton relied heavily on the curveball and his usual hefty dosage of two and four-seam fastballs. The last batter that Morton faced in the seventh was Rougned Odor, who struck out swinging with the Astros protecting a 3-1 advantage.
"I'm sure every pitcher loves to finish the [last] at-bat with a punchout," Hinch said.
Gattis, who had Houston's only hit on Friday, had two of the Astros' eight hits on Saturday. The designated hitter also stole second in the third inning for his first stolen base since 2016. Correa's two-run homer in the eighth gave the Astros a 5-1 lead, part of a three-run inning.
In the third, Gattis singled up the middle, scoring Josh Reddick, who led off the inning with a double for the Astros' first hit off Doug Fister. Gattis' fifth-inning home run, his second of the season, made it 3-1.
With the victory, the Astros move to 11-10 at home. Through 41 games, the Astros (25-16) are on pace to win 98 games.
Morton and Fister traded outs early, combining to retire the game's first 14 batters before Ronald Guzman's second home run of the season -- a 404-foot line drive to right field -- gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with two outs in the third.
George Springer was not in the Houston lineup because of a left elbow contusion sustained the day before when he was hit by a fastball from Cole Hamels in the third inning of Friday's 1-0 loss.
With Morton's 14 strikeouts Saturday, the Astros' starting rotation has recorded 10 or more punchouts in 12 games this season. Gerrit Cole leads all Astros with five such games, while Morton has three and Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers have two apiece. The Nationals trail the Astros with eight games at 10 or more K's.
HE SAID IT
"There's a lot of things you got to pay attention to in a game. You never know what you'll see on a nightly basis. I don't know when the next one you'll see is, but if you missed tonight, you better try to see it on the highlights." -- Hinch, on Gattis' third-inning steal of second, only his third career steal
Video: [email protected]: Gattis steals his first base since 2016
Dallas Keuchel will oppose fellow left-hander Matt Moore as the Astros conclude a brief three-game home series with the Rangers on Sunday, starting at 1:10 p.m. CT. Keuchel has gone seven-plus innings in his last three starts and was the beneficiary of Houston scoring 16 runs in his last outing.