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Bullpen Coughs up the Lead, Astros Lose a Slugfest to the Rangers on a Walk-Off

It looked for a little while like the offense had turned a back-and-forth affair into a runaway, but the relievers ultimately could not hold

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that featured nine homers, the Astros proved unable to put the Texas Rangers away for good and recorded their second straight loss coming off the All-Star Break. After blowing three earlier one-run leads, the lineup finally staked the pitching staff a four-run lead, only to see them allow five runs over the final three innings.

Gerrit Cole had a decent start, or at least as good as a pitcher can have on an offense-heavy day where the Ballpark in Arlington appears to be acting more like the Wind Tunnel in Arlington. Through six innings, he held the Rangers to just five hits and two walks while striking out a remarkable 13 Rangers hitters. Unfortunately, three of those five hits allowed were homers, meaning four runs came in as well, but given the conditions, it went pretty well.

And it’s not like the offense was only coming from one side; the Astros hitters were doing a decent job as well. They took their first lead in the second when Yuli Gurriel got back into his pre-All-Star groove and launched a two-run homer to center. That overcame Shin-Soo Choo’s leadoff homer in the first.

Unfortunately, the Rangers tied it in the bottom half of the inning on a Danny Santana solo shot, but the Astros struck right back the next half-inning. George Springer got a one-out single, then Michael Brantley worked a two-out walk and Yordan Álvarez brought Springer home on a single that Elvis Andrus threw away. 3-2 Astros.

Joey Gallo tied things up again in the fourth with another solo home run, but Jose Altuve matched him with a solo shot of his own in the fifth, his second since coming off the Injured List.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Rangers tied it up once again on a couple of walks and an Andrus single, but the Astros struck back even more decisively this time. Yordan led off the sixth with a home of his own, then Yuli, Josh Reddick, and Tyler White all singled to bring in two more runs. Yordan added what should have been the icing on the cake the next inning, with his second homer of the night and ninth on the season through just 21 games.

Unfortunately, things went a little sideways from there. Will Harris came in to start the seventh, then immediately gave up a home run to former Astro Tim Federowicz before putting two more runners on. Ryan Pressley was unable to prevent another run from scoring when Robinson Chirinos threw the ball away on an Elvis Andrus steal attempt, allowing Choo in to score once again. Hector Rondón was unable to stop the bleeding in the eighth, allowing a two-run homer to Ronald Guzmán to tie the game, and Roberto Osuna closed things out in the ninth by allowing a single to Andrus, a walk to Gallo, and a single to Santana.

It’s a tough loss for the team in spite of the Alex Bregman-less offense putting up a good showing. Yordan and Yuli were the clear stars; Álvarez recorded his first multi-homer game, as well as singling and walking, while Yuli went 2-4 with his own homer. But ultimately, eight runs just wasn’t enough on this high-scoring night.

The loss leaves the Astros at 57-35 on the year, still in first in the AL West by 6.5 games. They’ll start to work towards splitting the series tomorrow at 7:05 CST, with Wade Miley taking on Mike Minor.