ARLINGTON (AP) — George Springer scored the tiebreaking run in the ninth inning on a balk after homering on the first pitch of the game, and the Houston Astros swept their Texas rivals in a four-game series for the first time, beating the Rangers 8-7 despite blowing a six-run lead Sunday.
Texas closer Keone Kela had already thrown a pitch to Evan Gattis with two outs when Astros manager A.J. Hinch came out of the dugout apparently to question whether Kela had balked. After a brief conversation among the four umpires, Springer was awarded home.
Replay showed Kela (3-3) not pausing in his delivery, and Rangers manager Jeff Banister was ejected while arguing the decision.
The World Series champion Astros won their fifth straight and moved a season-high 17 games over .500 (42-25) despite Dallas Keuchel failing to hold a 6-0 lead.
The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner couldn’t get through five innings, matching a career worst by allowing 13 hits while throwing 106 pitches in just 4 1/3 innings.
Yuli Gurriel’s fourth hit was a tiebreaking homer in the seventh, but the Rangers got even again when Nomar Mazara doubled and Adrian Beltre singled him home with two outs in the eighth against Will Harris (2-3).
Springer walked to lead off the ninth, went to second on a wild pitch and took third on a flyout by Gurriel after an intentional walk to Jose Altuve.
Hector Rondon struck out the side in the ninth for his third save of the season and second in as many games.
Texas dropped a season-high 14 games under .500 (27-41) despite a season-best 16 hits.
Springer’s major league-leading fifth leadoff homer of the season was his third against Texas. Last year’s World Series MVP leads the defending champions with 14 home runs.
Ronald Guzman’s RBI single for a 6-6 tie finished off Keuchel in the fifth, and the Astros stayed even when lefty Tony Sipp came on thanks to Gurriel’s leaping grab of a liner from Shin-Soo Choo that turned into an unassisted double play at first base.
Choo, who reached base in a majors-leading 26th straight game, and Carlos Perez had two-run singles for the Rangers.
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