Astros' Lone Star struggle continues
Peacock strikes out 11, but bats are quieted by Rangers
HOUSTON -- For as unpredictable as a series between Lone Star State rivals could be, the Astros and Rangers have been awfully predictable when they get together this season.
For the third time in four meetings, the Astros couldn't push across a run and the Rangers provided enough offense for a 4-0 victory on Monday night in Minute Maid Park.
Houston is now 3-20 against Texas since joining the American League West last season, and the Astros are 3-10 in series openers this season.
"I don't look at the whole barrage of games [against Texas]," said Houston manager Bo Porter. "I take it one game at a time. When I look at tonight, it sums up to me: We had opportunities get away; they capitalized on their opportunities. That's why they came out on top."
The script stayed mighty familiar. Just like in Arlington last month, when Houston lost a pair of 1-0 games, runs were at a premium. Though the Astros outhit the Rangers Monday with a season-high 11 hits, they squandered their chances the few times they strung them together.
The Astros were playing from behind early, as Brad Peacock followed a fairly familiar pattern. While cruising at times, striking out a career-high 11, the righty also paid for his mistakes. Two Rangers home runs accounted for three of his four runs allowed in six innings.
"That's the best I've felt in a long time," Peacock said. "I was able to throw my fastball wherever I wanted for the most part."
It was a hanging slider that did him in, though. He gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Adrian Beltre in the third on the heels of striking out five Rangers in a row. That provided all the offense Peacock's counterpart, Colby Lewis, needed.
Rangers nine-hole hitter Rougned Odor finished the Astros off, ripping an RBI single in the fourth and giving Peacock a parting gift with an upper-deck solo homer in the sixth.
"He was throwing the ball good," Beltre said of Peacock. "Hitting his spots and hitting the corners. But he made a couple of mistakes, and we didn't miss."
Peacock's effort made it eight games in a row that Houston's starter has lasted at least six innings, the longest stretch for the club since June. Peacock (0-4) is still in search of his first win this season through nine appearances and five starts.
"When you have a guy step up and pitch like that and have a bunch of strikeouts, it's tough to not do our part and come through," said catcher Jason Castro.
In a meeting of the AL's top basestealing squads, some miscues cost the Astros.
Jose Altuve led off the game with a single, but he was caught stealing at second on a bang-bang play moments before Dexter Fowler tripled to the right-field wall.
In the third, Houston attempted a double steal with Jonathan Villar on second and Fowler on first and two outs with Matt Dominguez, the Astros' hottest hitter of late, at the plate. Fowler was tagged out at second after a late break.
"As the trail runner, you have to get there," Porter said. There's nobody holding you and you're watching the guy in front of you. As soon as he takes off, you should be moving. It can't be a delay."
Dominguez extended his hit streak to seven games and kick-started a sixth-inning threat with a single to second that bounced into Odor's chest and down his jersey. The third baseman has hit safely in 12 of the last 13 games.
Though George Springer followed Dominguez's quirkey infield single with a single to push runners to second and third via left fielder Mitch Moreland's fielding error, Chris Carter meekly grounded to Rangers reliever Nick Martinez to end the frame.
Dominguez singled again and reached third base on Springer's looping base hit in the eighth inning, but Neal Cotts recorded consecutive strikeouts of Carter and Jesus Guzman followed to snuff out Houston's last legitimate comeback chance.
Altuve laced a one-out double in the ninth, raising his average to .298 with a 3-for-5 night, but Fowler and Castro struck out against Rangers closer Joakim Soria to end the game.
The Astros finished the game 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.
"The difference [between the Astros and the Rangers] is the ability to hit with men in scoring positions and push a run across with balls in play," Porter said. "I think we struck out 14 times. The other team only has to defend the baseball 13 teams.
"That's a recipe for not having a good offensive night."