Kyle Tucker ripped a two-run, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning to back the four-hit outing of starter Justin Verlander as the visiting Houston Astros defeated the Texas Rangers 3-2 on Thursday afternoon in Arlington, Texas, in the finale of a four-game series.
Tucker’s homer off reliever Matt Bush (0-1) drove in Jeremy Pena, who had been hit by a pitch, and allowed Verlander (2-1) his second victory in four starts this season after missing all of 2021 with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
Verlander, 39, struck out eight and did not walk a batter and lowered his ERA to 1.73. Rafael Montero allowed a one-out home run to Texas’ Corey Seager in the ninth and then worked out of a two-on, two-out jam for his first save of the year.
The Astros won the final three games of the series after losing 6-2 on Monday.
Tucker, who was on a scheduled rest day heading into a weekend series in Toronto, had at least one RBI in every game of the series and drove in nine runs combined in the four contests. He had endured a 13-game stretch without a run batted in before his hot streak.
Both Verlander and Texas starting pitcher Martin Perez were nearly untouchable for the first six innings. Perez retired the first 18 batters he faced while Verlander allowed only a soft, two-out single to Andy Ibanez in the third inning until the seventh.
Houston finally cracked Perez in the seventh when Chas McCormick doubled to lead off the inning, moved to third on a groundout by Michael Brantley and scored on a two-out single to left by Yordan Alvarez.
The Rangers responded in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases on consecutive one-out singles by Seager, Mitch Garver and Nathaniel Lowe to set the table for Adolis Garcia’s sacrifice fly that plated Seager with the tying run.
Perez surrendered just two hits in seven innings of work while striking out four and not walking a batter. Bush, the second of three Rangers pitchers, took the loss.
–Field Level Media