HOUSTON -- In one impressive set of performances the Texas Rangers showcased what makes them prolific, from their exceptional starting pitching to their sufficient team speed and reliable defense. But what resonated this weekend was their ability to hit the ball out of the park.
The Rangers capped a power-laden weekend by clubbing three home runs Sunday en route to a 12-7 victory at Minute Maid Park and a three-game series sweep of the struggling Houston Astros.
Texas (24-13) hit nine home runs during the weekend series. However, unlike the comeback efforts sparked by Nelson Cruz and his game-tying, sixth-inning home runs Friday and Saturday night, the Rangers turned on the power early in the series finale and cruised to victory.
Left fielder David Murphy smacked a two-run blast that capped the Rangers four-run third inning before right fielder Leonys Martin cranked a solo shot that opened Texas' four-run fifth. Third baseman Adrian Beltre concluded the scoring in that frame with his eighth home run this season, a three-run dinger off right-hander Edgar Gonzalez.
"I'm very happy," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We did it up and down the lineup, the way we're capable of doing today."
The Rangers hardly missed Cruz and second baseman Ian Kinsler, who were given the day off after combining for 16 home runs this season. Their replacements, Martin and Leury Garcia, finished a combined 5-for-11 with six runs scored and two RBIs. Beltre went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and four RBIs. He also homered Saturday night.
"It's nice to know that when the manager decides to give a couple of guys the day off that guys are going to come in and step up and do good, especially offensively," Beltre said. "Those guys were good today. I think Leury scored like four runs; Ian hasn't scored four runs all year. So it's nice to have a second baseman score a lot of runs."
Beltre had his tongue planted firmly in his cheek while commenting on Kinsler, but his point was made clear nonetheless. The Rangers are deep.
The run support buoyed right-hander Nick Tepesch (3-3), who suffered consecutive losses to the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs before breezing through the Houston lineup. The Astros (10-28) trailed 8-0 before catcher Jason Castro hit a two-out, solo home run in the fourth.
Tepesch allowed one run on four hits and one walk with a career-high eight strikeouts over six innings. He threw 84 pitches, 55 for strikes.
The Astros finished their season-long 10-game homestand 2-8, and were swept in a series of at least three games for the fifth time, including the Detroit Tigers' four-game sweep that opened this homestand.
"We didn't play well enough to win, and when you don't play well enough to win you have to ask yourself, 'How can I play better?'" Astros manager Bo Porter said. "The games that are gut-wrenching are when you play well enough to win but don't get that break point to get us over the hump. That wasn't the case today."
Right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-1) was pummeled for eight runs on 11 hits and three walks over four innings. He was relieved in the fifth by Gonzalez, who allowed two homers and three singles in his first inning of work.
"I wasn't throwing the ball over the plate," Lyles said. "I was missing by a little bit and missing by a lot. They hit me around pretty good, then I walked some guys and they hit me around some more. The loss is definitely on my shoulders, and I've got to do a better job of competing."
Gonzalez joined the Astros on Sunday after being designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays May 9. He replaced right-hander Philip Humber on the 25-man roster after Humber was designated for assignment after allowing five runs on five hits while recording only two outs Saturday. Gonzalez started spring training with the Astros, but Houston designated Gonzalez for assignment on April 5.
NOTES: The Rangers activated left-hander Martin Perez from the 15-day disabled list and assigned him to Double-A Frisco. Martin was placed on the DL March 31 with a fractured left wrist and has missed all 37 games this season. ... Lyles, 22, is the second youngest pitcher to start a game in the American League this season. Right-hander Trevor Bauer, 22, started for the Cleveland Indians on April 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays.