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  W: J. Verlander (11-4)   L: A. Jurado (5-5)
12:05 PM PT1:05 PM MT2:05 PM CT3:05 PM ET15:05 ET19:05 GMT3:05 12:05 PM MST2:05 PM EST2:35 PM VEN23:05 UAE2:05 PM CT, July 14, 2019
Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas  Attendance: 27,916

Astros suddenly eyeing series split with Rangers

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

There were enough moments of ragged play Saturday to yield belief that the Astros would indeed suffer their third series loss in as many series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington this season, with errors both mental and physical undermining every attempt Houston made to advance.

Ultimately, however, the Astros overcame their own missteps, defeated the Rangers 7-6 in 11 innings, and set the stage for a win Sunday that would salvage a split of their four-game series. Houston committed three errors, all in the Rangers' two-run third inning, and had three runners eliminated on the basepaths -- playing a brand of baseball unbecoming a World Series contender.

Yet, there were enough clutch performances sprinkled throughout to keep the Astros afloat. Houston had struggled on the road recently and has scuffled at Globe Life Park all season, so its ability to turn the tables late and pull out an extra-inning win proved doubly satisfying. That it was Jose Altuve who struck the decisive blow with two outs in the 11th, producing an RBI double on an 0-2 pitch to complete his 30th career four-hit game, came as little surprise.

"This is a team that no matter how we're playing, we're going to go out there and play hard," Altuve told reporters. "In the season there are going to be ups and downs but we're going to keep believing in us. Thank God we won (Saturday); let's get another one (Sunday)."

Right-hander Justin Verlander (10-4, 2.98 ERA) will start the series finale Sunday. Verlander, who started for the American League in the All-Star Game last Tuesday, has allowed at least one home run in each of his previous five starts and 12 total during that stretch, posting a 1-2 record and 4.91 ERA. He is 15-8 with a 2.79 ERA over 28 career starts against the Rangers, including a 2-0 mark and 2.50 ERA in three starts this season.

Right-hander Ariel Jurado (5-4, 4.23 ERA) will start for the Rangers as they attempt to win all three home series against Houston this season. Jurado had made eight consecutive starts, going 4-2 with a 5.24 ERA during that stretch, before appearing in relief on July 7 against the Minnesota Twins and working 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He is 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA over three career appearances (one start) against the Astros, appearing twice in relief against Houston this season and giving up four runs over 3 2/3 innings -- though all of the runs are unearned.

Not only do the Rangers stand poised to win the four-game weekend series with a victory Sunday, they could even the season series with the division-leading Astros at 7-7 with five games remaining, all at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

"It's huge," Rangers reliever Adrian Sampson said of the win Saturday after working 2 2/3 scoreless innings in the game. "Our goal was to sweep these guys. That's the goal every day, just to win every game. I think coming in (Sunday) it's going to be a huge day for us, a huge day for the organization."

--Field Level Media

Updated July 14, 2019

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