HOUSTON -- The Astros rode a hot night from the bats and another quality outing from Dallas Keuchel to gain in the American League Wild Card race and secure their first series win over the Rays since 2008 with a 6-2 victory on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
Houston had 12 hits, including a two-run homer by rookie sensation Alex Bregman and four doubles -- three of which produced runs -- while taking advantage of a bumpy night from Rays starter Blake Snell, who lasted only three-plus innings before leaving with a bruised lower left leg.
Yulieski Gurriel collected his first Major League extra-base hit and RBI on a second-inning double. Gurriel and Bregman combined to drive in five runs.
"I really feel like I've turned a corner and my body's caught up," Keuchel said, "so I've got it to where I want it to be and the offseason workouts were predicated on getting my body ready for August and early September, the stretch run. I think I'm right there."
• Cash: Rays need 'better judgment' on bases
Keuchel notched his first career win over the Rays in seven attempts, allowing only two runs in seven innings while striking out four. The performance was also Keuchel's 10th quality start in his last 12 outings.
Houston has won seven of its last eight games, with every victory during that span featuring at least one Astros home run. The win combined with Baltimore's loss to the Yankees on Saturday moved the Astros within two games of the AL's second Wild Card.
"[The Astros'] lineup is good," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "They're a young lineup, they're also very talented. It seemed like they made [Snell] work, and they made him pay for anything he left over the plate."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bouncing back: Bregman had a shaky start on defense with two errors in the first two innings, but bounced back with his bat in a major way in the third. The rookie launched a two-run homer, his fifth of the year, into the Crawford Boxes, a 340-foot shot as projected by Statcast™, to give Houston a 4-0 lead.
"You're going to make errors," Bregman said. "That's part of it. Those two errors, I learned something from both of them." More >
Snell out: Snell had to leave the game after 64 pitches in the fourth due to a bruised lower left leg after being hit by a hard grounder by Marwin Gonzalez, which went for a single. Snell had a rough outing, allowing four earned runs on nine hits with three strikeouts over three-plus innings. More >
Triple double: The Astros led off the bottom of the second with three consecutive doubles -- courtesy of Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis and Gurriel -- to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Gurriel, the 32-year-old Cuban legend who went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI doubles, debuted for the Astros on Aug. 21.
"I've done a ton of work with the training staff here in the last couple of days to get my body to where it needs to be," said Gurriel, who has been dealing with a hamstring strain lately. "I didn't think I'd be feeling this good by now, but we've done a tremendous job."
Souza delivers: In Tuesday's loss to Boston, an errant throw by Steven Souza Jr. to third trying to nail David Ortiz turned into the Red Sox's second run. On Saturday, he caught José Altuve's drive to right then threw a strike to third to nab George Springer for the inning-ending double play, giving Souza his seventh outfield assist of the season.
"Killed some momentum, kept Correa from coming up, I was glad to get Snell out of that inning early," Souza said.
"I haven't won against them in my career until tonight. Think I was able to make pitches, and I was kind of pitching around a few of those guys just to get to [Corey] Dickerson, a lefty, and it worked out in my favor tonight." -- Keuchel, on forcing a 4-6-3 double play in the second to escape a bases-loaded jam
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Bobby Wilson hit his fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot off Keuchel in the fifth. The Rays' catcher is now 5-for-11 (.454) with a double, two home runs and five RBIs against the Astros' left-hander. Wilson only has 14 career home runs.
"I've seen him a lot," Wilson said. "He dominated me last year. I guess I see him alright. Just one of those guys I've had success against."
Rays:Chris Archer (7-17, 4.11 ERA) starts for the Rays at 2:10 p.m. ET in Sunday's series finale and the right-hander finds himself one loss away from tying Tanyon Sturtze's team record for the most losses in a single season. While Archer leads the Major Leagues in losses, he leads the AL in strikeouts with 192. He is 3-2 with a 1.31 ERA and .145 opposing average in six career starts against the Astros..
Astros: Houston will hand the ball to Doug Fister Sunday from Minute Maid Park at 1:10 p.m. CT. Fister (12-8, 3.59 ERA) is looking to rebound from his shortest home start of the season, an 8-2 loss to St. Louis in which the right-hander allowed four runs and seven hits in only four innings.
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