ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Jeff Mathis hit a tie-breaking, three-run home run in the seventh inning and Leody Taveras followed with a solo blast in a five-run inning as the Texas Rangers beat the playoff-bound Houston Astros 6-1 on Saturday night.
Mathis homered to left center, only his third of the season, against rookie Brandon Bielak (3-3) before Taveras hit his fourth off fellow rookie Andre Scrubb. Rougned Odor added a two-out RBI single.
The Astros are in the playoffs for the fifth time in the past six seasons, clinching second place in the AL West late Friday night when the Los Angeles Angels lost.
Houston rested almost one-third of its regular position players and pulled starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. after four scoreless innings. Michael Brantley, Carlos Correa and Martin Maldonado were given Saturday off, and Yuli Gurriel left after two at-bats.
Jimmy Herget (1-0) earned his first major league win after allowing the Astros to tie the score 1-1 in the seventh when Jack Mayfield’s sacrifice fly to center scored Aledmys Diaz, who led off the inning with a double into the right-field corner.
McCullers extended his streak of innings without allowing an earned run to 17 2/3. He allowed only two singles and one walk and struck out a season-high nine, including the final five outs he recorded.
Nick Solak’s two-out RBI single to left in the bottom of the sixth scored the game’s first run and put Rangers starter Kyle Gibson in position to win after throwing six scoreless innings and scattering six hits. Gibson’s ERA in five previous home starts this season was 7.18.
Rangers: OF-DH Shin-Soo Choo, 38, said he would like to play in Sunday’s Texas season finale and beyond. He has been sidelined since Sept. 7 with a sprained right wrist and doesn’t want to finish the season on the injured list. His seven-year Texas contract expires at the end of the season. His .229 batting average is a career low.
“I can still play the game,” Choo said.
Astros: RHP Chase De Jong (0-0, 14.73 ERA) will likely make his second start and third appearance this season, his first since Sept. 8.
Rangers: RHP Jordan Lyles (1-6, 7.08) began his major league career with the Astros (2011-13). He allowed seven runs on 10 hits in five innings at Arizona on Tuesday.