ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers on Monday cruised to their sixth consecutive win over their in-state rivals, with a season-high 16 runs -- including an 11-run inning that was the biggest in baseball this season -- in a 16-5 victory over the Houston Astros at Rangers Ballpark.
Winners of 12 of the last 13 meetings since an opening night loss, Texas sent 11 across the plate to break open what was a 2-1 game in the third. The Rangers (72-53) claimed the opener of a three-game series with the Astros.
The 11-run inning eclipsed the previous season-high of nine the team plated in Saturday night's 15-3 win over Seattle. A.J. Pierzynski led the way with four hits and four RBI on the night and ended a 46-inning streak for the Rangers without a home run with a shot to right in the seventh. Pierzynski was a triple short of the cycle.
"After a tough loss yesterday it was good to come back and have a game like tonight," Pierzynski said. "We've needed a night like tonight and it was a good win for everybody."
Pierzynski had mixed emotions about his 14th homer of the season, admitting that it came at the price of a friend.
"It's one of those things where (Phillip Humber) is a friend of mine and I want to hit the ball," Pierzynski said. "But when you hit a home run you kind of feel bad for him."
Leonys Martin added three hits and combined with Elvis Andrus as the pair each crossed the plate three times each in the contest.
Matt Garza struck out eight to improve to 9-2 on the season, 3-1 with the Rangers. However, Garza's five earned runs ended a streak of 21 games in which the Rangers rotation had now allowed four runs or less.
"I wanted to keep attacking and stay in the strike zone and force the issue," Garza said. "I did that but maybe did that a little too much. I was happy with my fastball location but it got away from me in the seventh."
Garza allowed eight hits scattered over his 6 2/3 innings pitched.
Robbie Ross replaced Garza in the seventh and gave up a RBI-double to Brett Wallace that was charged to Garza. Ross would retire four of the next five batters faced to give way to Joakim Soria, who worked a perfect ninth.
Houston (41-83) had entered with momentum after claiming the first two series of a nine-game road trip before facing Texas.
Houston starter Lucas Harrell gave up nine runs (seven earned) in his previous start against the Rangers on July 5. He matched that misfortune Monday, allowing another nine runs (seven earned). Harrell lasted 2 1/3 innings Monday after going 3 2/3 in the ugly outing that lost him his regular place in the rotation.
"It was one of those things where he got into some deep counts and those guys put some good swings on some pitches," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "When you give teams extra outs, especially to a lineup as deep as the Rangers, you are going to run into a lot of trouble."
After Texas plated two in the first, the flood gates opened against Harrell in the third.
Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus opened the inning with back-to-back hits for the second time in the game, having done so in the first. Each wound up scoring twice in the third inning.
The seven-hit rally included a two-run single by A.J. Pierzynski, a two-run double by Mitch Moreland and a two-run throwing error by Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar.
Pierzynski added an RBI single later in the inning and all nine Texas starters scored a run in the inning.
Jake Elmore provided a bright spot for Houston, becoming the first major leaguer to appear as a catcher and pitcher in the same game since Toronto's Jeff Mathis did so in July of 2012. Elmore made his first appearance of his career at each position, pitching a perfect eighth.
Robbie Grossman led the Astros with two RBI, each coming on a double in the four-run seventh for Houston.
"It's pretty simple," Porter said. "We didn't play well. I went and told the guys to let this one go. It only counted as one game and we still have a chance to win the series, so come back tomorrow ready to play."
NOTES: Houston replaced its scheduled starter, RHP Jordan Lyles, with Harrell after Lyles appeared in relief Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels. ... Texas announced before the game that LHP Travis Blackley would start on Tuesday against the Astros. Blackley was acquired from the Astros on Aug. 14. ... Andrus recorded the 29th steal of home in franchise history during the first inning. ... 3B Adrian Beltre became the first Ranger since Oscar Gamble in 1979 to be intentionally walked in his first two plate appearances of a game.