The Texas Rangers try to beat the Houston Astros for the 11th straight time and keep themselves in the American League wild card mix on Wednesday when the Lone Star State rivals close out a three-game set from Rangers Ballpark.
Texas' recent mastery of the Astros continued on Tuesday, as Adrian Beltre hit a go-ahead solo homer in the sixth inning and the Rangers kept pace in the wild card chase with a 3-2 win.
The Rangers have won 16 of the 18 meetings with the woeful Astros this year and remained one game behind the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card spot with five to play.
"That home run was huge right there. We certainly needed and it couldn't have got it as a bigger time," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Geovany Soto went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win, which was credited to Neal Cotts (6-3) for pitching a scoreless inning of relief behind Yu Darvish.
Matt Dominguez hit a solo homer for the Astros, whose 11th consecutive loss overall gave them 107 on the year -- tied for the most in franchise history.
Brad Peacock (5-6) was charged with three runs on six hits over six frames, the one big mistake coming on a 1-2 pitch to Beltre that broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth.
"I felt like he threw the ball outstanding," Astros manager Bo Porter said.
Getting the call for the Rangers on Wednesday will be lefty Martin Perez, who has lost his last two decisions after winning six in a row. Perez didn't get a decision on Friday in Kansas City, despite allowing just a run and seven hits, but walked four batters in 5 2/3 innings of a 2-1 loss.
"I just want to finish strong, do the same things I did before: relax, be aggressive and attack the hitters," said Perez, who is 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA. "We know we have to win. That's what I want to do -- win and compete. These games are just too important. I just need to win."
Houston, meanwhile, will counter with a young lefty of its own in Dallas Keuchel, who is 6-9 with a 4.99 ERA. Keuchel pitched well in a no-decision against Cleveland on Thursday, giving up just a run in seven innings of his team's 2-1 loss.
"Any time you can limit a good team that's pushing for the playoffs, that's big," he said. "I knew coming in I had to be conscious of throwing the fastball early. ... We had a good game plan going in, and it was about execution."