Alvarez and Caratini homer as Astros beat Rangers 10-5 for a series split after Valdez scratched

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Yordan Alvarez homered for the second game in a row, among his three hits as Houston rallied from an early deficit to beat the Texas Rangers 10-5 on Monday night after Astros scheduled starter Framber Valdez was scratched because of elbow soreness.

No. 9 batter Victor Caratini added a three-run homer as the Astros earned a split in the four-game series that was the first this season between the AL West rivals.

Seth Martinez (1-0) worked 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief as the first of four pitchers after Blair Henley retired only one of the nine batters he faced. Henley's major league debut starting in place of Valdez, who returned to Houston to be evaluated by team doctors.

“We just tried to attack the zone, attack the hitters as best as possible,” said Caratini, the catcher who navigated all of those pitchers. “Then after we tied and took the lead, our biggest goal was for all the pitchers that came in to throw the least amount of pitches as possible.”

Tayler Scott and Brandon Bielak each worked two scoreless innings before Bryan Abreu pitched the ninth.

“Phenomenal job. That was a team win,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “We needed those guys to step up, and they did big time.”

The Astros led 2-0 before Henley threw his first pitch, but the 26-year-old from nearby Fort Worth allowed five runs before getting an out on his 34th pitch. His first seven pitches were balls before he allowed three consecutive singles, and then with the bases loaded walked a batter and hit another to force in two runs. Jared Walsh then blooped a two-run single to shallow left to give the World Series champions a 5-2 lead.

“Yeah, there were nerves ... tried to breathe as much as I could,” Henley said. “Just make adjustments is the main key. And when you don’t make adjustments, it ends up piling up on you.”

Alvarez got Houston within 5-4 with his fourth homer of the season, a two-run shot that he pulled 431 feet deep into the seats in right field off Texas starter Andrew Heaney (0-2). Alvarez greeted reliever Brock Burke with an RBI double in the fourth that tied the game at 5-5, and Kyle Tucker immediately followed with a tiebreaking two-run single.

Heaney was charged with six runs over 3 2/3 innings. The left-hander allowed four hits while walking three and striking out two.

“I felt a little off again, but physically I feel fine,” Heaney said. “It’s just frustrating.”


The Rangers and Astros open a three-game series Friday night in Houston, so will play seven of their 13 games against each other in the first 2 1/2 weeks this season. Both teams finished 90-72 last year, but Houston won the AL West title with the head-to-head tiebreaker by going 9-4. The Rangers won the AL pennant after a seven-game American Championship Series against the Astros when the road team won every game.


Astros: Manager Joe Espada said RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) “woke up feeling well” a day after throwing 65 pitches for Triple-A Sugar Land in his first rehab start. Verlander will throw on the side Wednesday and make another rehab start in the minors this weekend before rejoining the Astros.

Rangers: Rookie INF Justin Foscue (left oblique strain) was placed on the 10-day injured list, and INF Davis Wendzel had his contract selected from Triple-A Round Rock. 3B Josh Jung (right wrist fracture) was transferred from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL.


Houston opens a three-game series at Kansas City with Cristian Javier (1-0, 0.00 ERA) on the mound Tuesday night.

Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 1.38) makes his third start of the season for Texas in the series opener at home against Oakland.