ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Jose Altuve homered to back Framber Valdez, who won his sixth straight decision, as the Houston Astros beat the Texas Rangers 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Valdez (14-4) gave up solo homers to Texas’ Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, rookies Ezequiel Duran and Bubba Thompson, and five singles in eight innings. He struck out eight and walked none while pitching his 22nd consecutive quality start. Valdez hasn’t lost since July 9.
Valdez has the most consecutive quality starts in a season by a left-hander in major league history. He’s tied with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson and Chris Carpenter behind the 24 thrown by Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets in 2018.
“He’s aware of the number of quality starts, of consecutive quality starts,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s what’s pushing him. We’ll ride that.”
“I feel very proud of a lot of the hard work that I’ve been putting in,” Valdez said through a translator. “I’m going to continue setting more goals and hopefully continue to reach those and break those as well.”
The 14 wins are second in the American League to the 16 of teammate Justin Verlander, who went on the injured list Tuesday.
The Astros have won six of their last seven games and 11 of 15 this season from the Rangers.
Altuve pulled an inside slider just inside the left-field foul pole into the second deck to begin Houston’s two-run third inning, which included an RBI single by Christian Vasquez and was aided by a throwing error by third baseman Duran. Altuve led off the game with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Bregman.
The Astros added a run in the seventh inning on a leadoff single by rookie Jeremy Pena, who had three singles, and three straight walks.
Hector Neris earned his third save in six opportunities.
Dane Dunning (3-7) lost for the first time since June 29. Dunning gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits and three walks.
Of Dunning’s 95 pitches in five innings, 40 were thrown in the third. Texas interim manager Tony Beasley sent Dunning back out, and he had a nine-pitch fourth and a 10-pitch fifth.
“I do want starters to be starters,” Beasley said. “We’re not going to just bail ’em out when they get in trouble.”
Thompson homered to left field in the third inning for his first big-league homer. Duran’s fifth of the season came in the fifth, to left center.
The Rangers have lost three straight and are 7-7 under Beasley, who replaced Chris Woodward on Aug. 15
Verlander was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right calf injury. An MRI revealed fascial disruption, but no muscle fiber disruption. Verlander, 39, said he isn’t sure of a timetable for his return but doesn’t expect to be out too long.
Houston was 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on. … Rangers RF Adolis Garcia singled twice to extend his on-base streak to 25 games after having his career-best 23-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday. … Astros RHP Brandon Bielak and IF/OF J.J. Matijevic were recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land. … Astros RHP Hunter Brown – leading the Pacific Coast League in earned run average, strikeouts and tied for first with nine wins – joined the club on the taxi squad and will be activated when rosters expand on Thursday.
Astros: DH Yordan Alvarez (hand) missed his second consecutive game and is day to day. Baker said if it appears Alvarez will miss five or six games, it’s unlikely he’d be placed on the injured list.
Rangers: RHP Josh Sborz (elbow sprain) was placed on the injured list. RHP A.J. Alexy was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.
The teams will finish the two-game set on Wednesday afternoon with Astros RHP Cristian Javier (7-9, 2.97 ERA) facing Rangers LHP Martin Perez (10-4, 2.69). Javier is 1-6 in his last nine starts, twice not lasting four innings. Perez has shut out the Astros this season (May 20) and allowed seven runs in five innings against them (Aug. 9).