HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – The Houston Astros hopes for an AL West Division championship may be out of reach after Friday’s 6-2 loss to the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park. The Astros now trail their in-state rival by 4.5 games with Texas’ magic number for clinching the division falling to five.
Scott Kazmir (L, 7-11) once again struggled for Houston lasting just 3.2 innings allowing 10 Ranger hits and all six Texas runs.
The Rangers got on the board early with an RBI double by Prince Fielder in the first.
Kazmir helped the Texas offense add a pair of runs in the second. His throwing error on a bunt base hit by Elvis Andrus scored Mitch Moreland for the Rangers’ second run. Later in the inning Shin-Soo Choo, who had three hits on the night, drove in Chris Gimenez with a single to left to make it 3-0 Texas
After pitching a pitching a scoreless third. Kazmir would not escape the fourth inning despite getting the first two Ranger hitters of the inning out. Choo hit his 19th homer of the season, and his third against the Astros, scoring Delino DeShields to increase the Ranger lead to 5-0. Two batters later Prince Fielder singled to score Adrian Beltre from second to chase Kazmir from the game.
The Astros picked up a pair in the fourth after Evan Gattis hit his 10th triple of the season, Luis Valbuena hit his 23rd home run of the season off of Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo to plate the only two Astro runs of the game.
Ross Ohlendorf, the third Ranger pitcher used on the night pitched a perfect 1.1 innings to earn the win. Gallardo battled with high pitch innings before being lifted in the fifth. He pitched 4.2 innings and two earned runs.
The Astros suffered a scare in the seventh inning when shortstop Carlos Correa and second baseman Jose Altuve collided going after a fly ball in shallow center. Correa’s arm struck Altuve in the face and left the all-star shaken up and in pain for several minutes. Altuve would leave the game “as a precaution” according to AJ Hinch. Altuve said after the game that he expects to be ready to play on Saturday.
With the loss and a Los Angeles win over Seattle, the Astros lead over the Angels for the second American League Wild Card spot is only a half game. The Astros and Angels both have 74 losses.
Houston has now lost eight consecutive games to the Rangers and have a 13-4 record in the overall 2015 season series.
Saturday’s game will begin at 12:05 pm to accommodate the FOX national television broadcast. Colin McHugh (17-7, 3.93 ERA) will take the ball for Houston against Texas southpaw Derek Holland (3-3, 4.75 ERA).
Alex Del Barrio can be heard on Saturday afternoons with Matt Murphy from 3-7 pm on Sportsradio 610. Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio