ARLINGTON (AP) — Charlie Morton couldn’t do much to correct an erratic outing that the Houston right-hander ripped as “bordering on embarrassing.”
George Springer and the Astros found a way to beat the Rangers anyway for a shot at a four-game road sweep of their Texas rivals.
Springer hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning after Morton tied an American League record by hitting four batters, and the Astros beat the Rangers 4-3 on Saturday night.
Morton also issued a career-high six walks as the Astros allowed 10 walks, a season high. But the Rangers tied a club record with 17 runners left on base in a nine-inning game, most in the majors without extra innings this season.
“I got away with not knowing where the ball was going,” Morton said. “It’s a pretty unprofessional outing right there, bordering on embarrassing. You hit four guys and walk I don’t know how many more.”
The hard-throwing 34-year-old who had a 10-game winning streak stopped in his previous start gave up two runs without allowing a hit in the second. The only hit Morton surrendered in 3 2/3 innings was a third-inning double from Ronald Guzman that didn’t factor in the scoring.
After hitting Rougned Odor and walking Robinson Chirinos and Guzman in the second, Morton struck out Shin-Soo Choo before Delino DeShields hit a chopper up the middle that second baseman Jose Altuve fumbled for an error as Odor scored. Nomar Mazara followed with a sacrifice fly for an unearned run and a 2-2 tie.
“He just looked out of whack from the very beginning, delivery, timing, execution,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He was doing things that he never does, hitting left-handers with back-foot breaking balls, misfiring on a lot of fastballs. Just the entire game was a fight for him within himself.”
Reliever Brad Peacock hit Isiah Kiner-Falefa with his final pitch in the sixth to break Houston’s franchise record with five hit batters.
The Rangers also set a club record by getting hit five times but the worst hitting team in the majors with runners in scoring position went 1 for 17 in those situations. Texas stranded 12 runners in scoring position. The Astros struck out 10, six of them called.
“It’s not that they weren’t in the fight,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “We just didn’t get the hits. It doesn’t feel good, but I’ll continue to take our chances. We put 20 baserunners out there. We continue to do that every night, this offense will find a way to spark.”
Tony Sipp (1-0) struck out the first three hitters he faced in the sixth and seventh, and Hector Rondon got pinch-hitter Adrian Beltre to bounce into a game-ending double play for his second save.
Springer’s go-ahead single landed just in front of a sprinting Joey Gallo in left field against Jose Leclerc (1-2) after Guzman’s RBI single had pulled Texas even in the fifth.
Max Stassi homered leading off the fifth for Houston, and Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel had run-scoring hits in the first.
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