Rangers beat Astros for 17th time this season

Michael Eldridge, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Houston Astros proved to be just the right remedy for the Texas Rangers' ailing playoff hopes.
Texas completed a three-game sweep of the Astros on Wednesday night with a 7-3 victory at Rangers Ballpark.
Despite the sweep, Texas failed to pick up a game in the wild-card chase with both Tampa Bay and Cleveland winning. Texas remained a game behind Cleveland for the final playoff spot. And the Rangers close the season with a four-game set against the Los Angeles Angels.
"You get the mentality of taking care of the business in front of you," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of the team's focus. "We just have to continue to win ball games. If we win out and they win out, that is just how it is. We can't concentrate on what they are doing. We have to concentrate on what is in front of us."
The Rangers (87-71) continued to dominate their in-state rivals, closing the season series with a 17-2 advantage against the Astros. The 17 wins ties the most against a club in a season, matching the Indians advantage over the White Sox, achieved earlier on Wednesday night. The Rangers and the Indians joined the 1974 Braves and 1986 Mets as teams to accomplish the feat.
In sweeping the Astros for the third consecutive time, Texas picked up its 11th straight win in the series, the fourth most against a club consecutively in league history.
Houston ended its road schedule for 2013 with a 27-54 record and losers of their last 12 games. With the defeat, the Astros set a franchise record for most losses in a single season, moving to 51-108, surpassing last year's 107 losses.
"It's one of those things where you have to take accountability for what has happened," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. It is up to us as an organization to fix this.
Prior to 2011, the Astros had not lost more than 97 games in a season and, after their league-high losing streak, clinched the third season in a row with over 106.
"Coming into these last few games I felt like we would fare much better than we did," Porter said. "There is a reason why all of these teams are going to be in the playoffs or are fighting for their playoff lives."
Martin Perez, lifted by the Texas offense, ended a string of three straight starts without a win.
Perez (10-5) failed to pitch into the seventh inning in his past three starts. However, Wednesday night was different.
The left-hander worked around a three-run third as his only blemish on the night, striking out eight, allowing six hits and a walk.
"After they got three runs I just thought that I had to stop them here," Perez said. "I was trying to throw perfect and that is where I ran into trouble. I just needed to continue to pitch and minimize the damage.
Perez credited his return to focus to a mound visit by his manager, saying that it helped him re-focus on the game at hand.
"He told me not to go too fast," Perez said. "To take my big breaths and continue to throw my pitch. That is exactly what the idea was of his visit to the mound."
Jason Frasor and Joakim Soria would each work a scoreless inning in relief to finish off the victory.
Dallas Keuchel (6-10) lasted 5 2/3 innings for Houston, giving up seven runs (six earned) on six hits. Keuchel struck out five.
With the Rangers leading 1-0, the Astros scored three times in the fourth inning. Chris Carter drove in his 81st run of the year to tie the game and Brandon Laird, batting .188, hit his fifth home run of the season to put the Astros ahead, 3-1.
The Rangers woke up in their half of the fourth inning and scored five runs, all with two outs. The big blow came off the bat of Leonys Martin, who drove in three runs with bases-loaded double.
"(Keuchel) wasn't giving us anything over the plate to get on," Washington said. "Finally things started to open up. We caught the one that (Alex) Rios hit, but the big blow was the one that we got from Martin. He set up on a pitch in the zone and was able to drive it into right field."
Rios also had two RBIs in the inning.
Notes: Texas' 86 wins entering Wednesday's game clinched a club-record fifth consecutive season with 86 wins. ... The come-from-behind 3-2 win on Tuesday night gave Texas a club record in comebacks with 46, surpassing the total of 45 achieved in 1986, 1999 and 2007. ... The Astros close their season with a three-game series against the Yankees beginning on Friday when the Astros send LHP Brett Oberholtzer to the mound to square-off against LHP Andy Pettitte, who is retiring at the end of this season.

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