ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Nathan Eovaldi pitched seven scoreless innings to become the American League’s second 10-game winner and the AL West-leading Texas Rangers beat the second-place Houston Astros 5-2 on Saturday.
Eovaldi (10-3) struck out five and limited the Astros to two singles, but also had a season-high four walks while throwing 58 of 97 pitches for strikes. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 2.64 with his fifth start this season when he didn’t allow a run.
Marcus Semien, Corey Seager and Josh Jung, the three Rangers infielders selected by fans as All-Star starters, each drove in a run. Switch-hitting catcher Jonah Heim, also voted in this week to start for the AL team July 11 in Seattle, had three hits and scored a run.
After Josh Sborz worked a perfect eighth, reliever Joe Barlow gave up Kyle Tucker’s two-run homer with two outs in the ninth. His 12th homer of the season came right after Alex Bregman reached on a double, on a popup down the right-field line that hit off the glove of first baseman Nathaniel Lowe.
Will Smith then came on to get the final out for his 15th save in 16 chances.
Newly acquired hard-throwing reliever Aroldis Chapman, who joined the Rangers a day after being traded from Kansas City, was in the bullpen but never warmed up.
Astros rookie starter Hunter Brown (6-5) struck out six while allowing three runs and 10 hits over four innings, the shortest of the right-hander’s 16 starts this season. The 10 hits were a season high, with Semien, Seager and Heim combining for seven of those.
The Texas Rangers restored their lead.
With two games left in the four-game series, the Rangers (50-33) restored the five-game division lead they had had before losing the opener 5-3 on Friday night.
While two-time NL Cy Young Award winner and since-injured Jacob deGrom was the most-noted addition to the Rangers rotation last winter, Texas native Eovaldi signed a $34 million, two-year contract that includes a conditional player option for the 2025 season. Eovaldi is now tied for the second-most wins in the majors, trailing only the 11 by Tampa Bay lefty Shane McClanahan.
Texas went ahead to stay on Seager’s single in the third inning for his 49th RBI in 51 games played.
Heim had a leadoff double in the fourth and scored on a single by Travis Jankowski, who then had a stolen base before going home on the second of Semien’s three singles. Adolis Garcia and Jung had consecutive RBI doubles to open the seventh and make it 4-0.
Astros: LHP Framber Valdez will miss his scheduled start Sunday. Manager Dusty Baker said Valdez (7-6, 2.49 ERA) has been bothered since he sprained his right ankle June 20 against the New York Mets, even though he made his next scheduled start in St. Louis. … SS Jeremy Peña was out of the lineup for the second game in a row because of a stiff neck.
LHP Andrew Heaney (5-5, 4.38 ERA), who starts Sunday for Texas, threw five scoreless innings against the Astros on April 16. It was a no decision for Heaney, who left when the 9-1 Rangers victory was still scoreless.
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