ARLINGTON, Texas -- The desperate Texas Rangers continued their season-long pounding of the Houston Astros on Monday, cruising to a 12-0 victory at Rangers Ballpark to begin a three-game series crucial to their wild-card hopes.
Texas beat Houston for the 15th time in 17 meetings this season. Lefty Derek Holland (10-9) went the distance to record his first win since Aug. 4, and right fielder Alex Rios led a 14-hit barrage by hitting for the cycle while collecting four RBIs.
Texas' slumping offense feasted early and often on Houston starter Jordan Lyles, jumping out to a 7-0 lead through three innings, then tagging two Houston relievers for five more runs over the next three innings.
The win moved the Rangers (85-71) one game back of idle Cleveland for the second wild-card spot. Tampa Bay beat Baltimore on a walk-off home run to maintain its two-game advantage over Texas. All three teams have six games remaining.
The Rangers breathed a sigh of relief as they finally got a home victory this month (1-7) and improved to just 6-15 overall in this agonizing month of September that has seen them go from leading the American League West to falling behind the Rays and Indians in the wild-card chase.
Holland kept the Astros' anemic lineup quiet, escaping his only jam, which was a minor one in the second inning, when he allowed the first two batters to reach base on consecutive singles. Holland retired the next three batters to get out of the inning and set down seven in a row before allowing a one-out walk in the fifth. He scattered six hits and one walk while striking out nine, one shy of his season high.
Houston fell to 51-106 and its next loss will match the franchise's all-time record of 107 losses set last season.
Texas will turn to ace Yu Darvish in Tuesday's game as it seeks its first back-to-back victories since Aug. 27-28.
The Rangers struck for a pair of runs in the first inning on consecutive hits by Texas' first three batters.
Ian Kinsler led off with a single into right. Elvis Andrus, with Kinsler on the move, lined a hit to left and took second after the throw went to third base well behind Kinsler. Rios followed with a sharp grounder down the third-base line to score both runners.
Kinsler made it 3-0 in the second with a two-out double that scored Craig Gentry, who walked to start the inning and stole second. The Rangers scored four times in the third, initiated by a freebie when the erratic Lyles walked David Murphy with the bases loaded and two out. Leonys Martin, the No. 9 hitter, then cleared the bases with a line drive to deep center to make it 7-0, but he was thrown out trying to leg out a triple.
That would be it for Lyles (7-9), who threw 75 pitches in his three innings and never gave the Astros a fighting chance to snap out of their funk. He gave up seven runs, all earned, on seven hits and three walks. He struck out two.
Right-hander reliever David Martinez couldn't stop the bleeding in the fourth, giving up an RBI single to Andrus, who got caught in a run-down between first and second for the first out. Rios followed with a solo home run to left for a 9-0 Texas lead.
NOTES: Rios' fourth-inning home run ended a six-game home-run drought at home for the Rangers that spanned 229 at-bats dating to Sept. 1. ... Suspended Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz told USA Today that he initially planned to appeal his 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, but feared Major League Baseball would seek a 100-game ban. Cruz is eligible to rejoin the team if Texas earns a wild-card berth or must play a 163rd game to determine the wild card. ... The Astros activated catcher Max Stassi from the seven-day concussion disabled list. He suffered the concussion against the Rangers on Aug. 21. ... Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre entered Monday's game needing eight hits to reach 200, two home runs to reach 30 and two RBIs to reach 90 this season. The only AL players in the last seven seasons to reach those levels are Miguel Cabrera (2012) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2011).