Grossman's eighth-inning homer lifts Astros
Houston rallies from 2-0 deficit to beat Rangers for sixth straight time
HOUSTON -- Robbie Grossman may never be mistaken as the answer to the Astros' outfield injury woes.
For one night, he had all the answers for the Rangers' pitching staff.
Grossman capped a three-hit night with a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning to turn a frustrating offensive night into an opportunistic one, as the Astros rallied past Texas for a 4-3 win Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros have now won six in a row against their rivals in the Lone Star series and are staring down at them in the standings by 2 1/2 games, a complete flip-flop from the teams' fortunes a year ago.
"The A's and the Rangers, them two both, they've been beating up on us the last couple years," said starter Brett Oberholtzer. "To turn the page a little bit and have some success against the Rangers, it means a lot to the guys in this clubhouse."
The six-game winning streak is the longest in franchise history against the Rangers.
The teams' fortunes changed awful quickly within this game alone.
Grossman's two-run homer came after seven-plus innings of missed opportunities for an Astros offense that left 10 men on base.
Jon Singleton led off the eighth with a single and advanced to second on Rangers reliever Neal Cotts' wild pitch before Matt Dominguez struck out. Grossman came up, hoping to break through given Houston's 0-for-6 line with runners in scoring position to that point.
The outfielder's no-doubt shot into the left-field stands did the trick just fine, allowing Oberholtzer to avoid the loss in a largely brilliant outing.
"It was a tough ballgame," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "We put up two runs in the first inning and just couldn't get anything else. They fought for their at-bats. They beat us. They beat our best pitcher that we had in that situation. I'd give the ball to Neal again."
It was the turning point, but Grossman had been strong all game, reaching base in all four plate appearances and finishing a triple shy of the cycle.
"I would give that an A+ -- that was outstanding and coming up big in a moment in which we needed someone to step up," said manager Bo Porter.
Grossman is now hitting .455 this year with three home runs and seven RBIs in six games against Texas.
"Glad we're turning the tables on them a little bit," he said. "Just one of those things, some days things go your way and they seem to do that for me against them."
This performance also bodes well for Grossman in the long term, as he could find himself fighting for the final outfield spot when George Springer and Dexter Fowler return from injury soon, not to mention Alex Presley at some point. Grossman has made a case, highlighted by a .402 on-base percentage since his recall from Triple-A Oklahoma City a month ago.
"All these guys understand the number crunching and business of the game," Porter said. "They know two of our regular guys will be back and they'll continue to try and… put themselves in position to stay up here."
It looked like Texas' own two-run homer would be the decisive one. J.P Arencibia drilled a first-inning offering over the wall, sending Oberholtzer off to an ominous start and leaving the Astros to play catch up.
Oberholtzer settled in, allowing just four more hits over 101 pitches and seven innings after the shaky beginning.
"Just told myself after the first, just pretend the second inning is the start of the first and just go out there… and give my team an opportunity to get some runs on the board," Olberholtzer said. "That worked out well tonight."
It was his fifth quality start in a row, dating back to July 12, and his sixth in his last seven outings. Despite the no-decision, Oberholtzer has established himself in the Astros rotation after shuttling between the Minors and Houston in May and June. And it's performances like Friday's, when the southpaw faced trouble early, that impress Porter the most.
"This guy's made right," Porter said. "From a mentality standpoint, he's confident, he trusts his stuff and I think that's why he's getting the results he wants… I love his makeup, I love his tenacity out there."
Chris Carter provided the Astros' offense before the eighth, delivering his 25th long ball off a high slider for a towering homer off the brick facade in left during the fifth inning.
"First couple at-bats I chased pitches out of the zone I shouldn't have swung and that got me in bad situations, Carter said. "Just wanted to stay back and avoid that and I got the pitch."
Carter has hit four home runs in August and 12 since July 1, leading the Majors during that time. The slugger is also batting .313 with nine RBIs this month.
Other than that, the Astros struggled to find a game-changing hit before Grossman's shot. Houston picked up an important insurance run as Gregorio Petit added an RBI double three batters later.
Petit was in the lineup because Jose Altuve left the game after five innings due to discomfort in his neck. Altuve went 0-for-3 before his exit, dropping him to a .333 batting average.
Closer Chad Qualls allowed a run in the ninth for his 13th save, but it didn't come easy.
Leonys Martin nearly tied the game on a warning-track shot to right with no outs, and the Rangers had two runners on before Qualls induced a game-ending double play.