ARLINGTON -- It took three games into the season, but the deepest lineup in baseball finally started to flex some muscle Saturday.Led by a career-high-tying four hits apiece from second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa, the Astros backed 5 1/3 innings from right-hander Lance McCullers and pounded the
ARLINGTON -- It took three games into the season, but the deepest lineup in baseball finally started to flex some muscle Saturday.
Led by a career-high-tying four hits apiece from second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa, the Astros backed 5 1/3 innings from right-hander Lance McCullers and pounded the Rangers, 9-3, at Globe Life Park.
The Astros, who had been held to 11 hits through the first two games of the season, pounded out 14 hits, with Altuve and Correa both going 4-for-5 in the third and fourth spots in the lineup, respectively. Jake Marisnick's two-run homer in the second inning off Rangers lefty Matt Moore gave Houston a 3-0 lead, and Correa launched a two-run homer in the seventh off Jesse Chavez that stretched the lead to 8-2.
"As a collective group, as a team, we're taking a lot of pride in the pitches we swing at and the pitches we take," Correa said. "I think today we showed that walks, driving the ball, swing decisions, that's something as a team we talked about every single day and hopefully we can stay consistent with it."
It was Correa's fourth career game with four hits, including three against Texas. Altuve reached four hits in a game for the 25th time in his career and is chasing a fifth hit in a game, though he didn't have a chance Saturday after getting his fourth hit in the eighth.
"I have seen this a lot of times," Altuve said. "I don't want to say this is the team we are, because we are going to win games and we're going to lose some games, we're going to hit really good and we're going to struggle sometimes, but I have seen this before so it doesn't surprise me."
Moore was making his first start for the Rangers after being acquired from the Giants in the offseason. He lasted just four innings and allowed four runs on seven hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six.
"I thought we made Moore work and took advantage of a couple of mistakes, put a couple of balls in play when we were deep in counts and ended up scratching out a few runs early and got the lead," said Astros manager AJ Hinch, whose team was aggressive on the basepaths and in the strike zone.
McCullers earned his first career win over the Rangers by using a steady diet of curveballs to strike out 10 batters, allowing four hits and two runs. He allowed just three baserunners the first two trips through the batting order and survived a fourth-inning hard grounder off his right leg from Rangers DH Shin-Soo Choo. Elvis Andrus tagged him for a homer in the third.
"He pitches well with the lead, and I think he's as confident as he's been in a long time," Hinch said. "He's always confident, but he's very under control with his confidence today."
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Speed on the bases: It's in the Astros' DNA to be aggressive on the bases, and Altuve twice went from first base to third on a single by Correa. Altuve was stranded at third in the first inning, but in the fifth he wound up scoring on a sac fly by Marwin Gonzalez.
"We ran in some faces going first to third," Hinch said.
Popup falls: The Astros had Evan Gattis at third with one out in the second inning when Brian McCann hit a high blooper into shallow right field. Second baseman Rougned Odor and outfielder Nomar Mazara converged on the ball but neither could get it. The ball fell for a run-scoring single and Marisnick followed with his two-run home run.
"Standard operation day at the office for Jose and Carlos. When those guys hit, it's pretty exciting when the lineup rolls around." -- Hinch
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Adrian Beltre had an RBI double in the sixth, giving him 3,052 hits for his career. He is one hit behind Rod Carew, the Panama native who is the all-time leader for players from Latin America.
Astros: Right-hander Gerrit Cole, acquired from the Pirates in a Jan. 13 trade, will make his Astros debut in Sunday's series finale. He faced the Rangers only once in his career -- throwing seven scoreless innings in his 2013 rookie season.
Rangers: Left-hander Mike Minor will make his first start for the Rangers against the Astros at 2:05 p.m. CT Sunday. It will be his first Major League start since Sept. 20, 2014. He is 1-1 with a 4.57 ERA in three starts and three relief appearances in his career against the Astros
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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.