Dallas Keuchel has already joined Roy Oswalt as the Houston Astros' only 17-game winners in a decade. Colin McHugh can now make it two in just over two weeks.
McHugh has earned a win in all of his career starts against the Texas Rangers, and another Tuesday night in Arlington would keep the Astros from falling out of first place.
The Rangers (76-67) opened the four-game set with Monday's 5-3 win to pull within a half game of Houston (77-67), which has been sitting atop the AL West since July 28. Texas, which remained a game up on Minnesota for the second wild card, hasn't been in first since April 11.
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"Every day, we're going to talk about someone's going to have the lead," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have it, and we've had it for a long time."
Texas has won four straight in the season series and nine of 13 this year, and another will move the club 10 games over .500 for the first time since its 91-win season in 2013 ended without a postseason appearance.
Mitch Moreland got to 20 home runs for the second time in his career, while Prince Fielder went deep for just the second time in 32 games.
Keuchel matched Oswalt's 2008 win total on Sept. 6 for the first such mark since Oswalt won 20 and Andy Pettitte notched 17 in 2005.
McHugh (16-7, 3.89 ERA) is in position to match them thanks to wins in three straight starts, though the right-hander wasn't in top form in Wednesday's 11-5 victory at Oakland. He gave up five runs and six hits over 5 1-3 innings but improved to 7-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 10 starts since the All-Star break.
He knows the recent wins have a lot to do with a 9.31 run-support average.
"Our offense did an incredible job today," McHugh told MLB's official website. "Hats off to them, hats off to the defense for doing a great job. The only stat that really matters is a win in the column for us."
McHugh beat the Rangers in his first start after the All-Star break to get to 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA against them despite conceding a .320 batting average. Fielder (4 for 6), Adrian Beltre (4 for 9) and Elvis Andrus (4 for 9) have hit him best.
For Houston, Jose Altuve homered and is batting .409 with six extra-base hits in his last five games.
McHugh was supposed to face Martin Perez, who he beat July 17, but the Rangers reworked their rotation and will instead start Derek Holland. Manager Jeff Banister said they prefer to have Holland (3-2, 3.13) and Monday's starter Cole Hamels going on consecutive nights in the division race.
"It's awesome to hear, but no matter what, I'm not going to let that get to me," Holland said. "I still have to go out there and perform and be me. I can't worry about being the hottest pitcher or any of those sayings that are out there as well. I just have to go out there and be me."
The left-hander made his season debut against Houston back on April 10 and lasted an inning before suffering a shoulder injury and taking the loss. He returned Aug. 19 and is 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA in five starts, but he gave up season-highs of five runs and nine hits in seven innings of Thursday's 5-0 loss in Seattle.
Jason Castro is 4 for 6 with a home run against him. Castro (quadriceps strain) is on the 15-day disabled list but is now considered day to day.
Carlos Gomez, also 4 for 6 against Holland, will miss the series with an intercostal strain.