Framber Valdez threw seven shutout innings to lead the Houston Astros to a 7-3 win against the visiting Texas Rangers in the rubber match of their three-game series on Thursday afternoon.
Valdez (11-4) allowed four hits, struck out eight and walked one to match his MLB career high in wins for a season. He's 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts since he was the winning pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game on July 19.
Martin Maldonado belted a three-run homer, Alex Bregman had a two-run shot and Yuli Gurriel added three hits and scored twice for the Astros.
Rangers left-hander Cole Ragans (0-1) made his second MLB start and gave up five runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out one and walked three.
Marcus Semien homered and Leody Taveras had two hits and an RBI for Texas.
Ragans pitched around a pair of walks in the second inning, but couldn't escape the third after giving up one-out singles to Jeremy Pena and Jake Meyers. Maldonado then stepped up and drilled a 2-0 fastball over the center-field fence for a 3-0 lead.
Gurriel singled to start the fifth and Bregman followed with a two-run homer to extend the lead to 5-0 and knock Ragans from the game.
Valdez pitched around a leadoff walk in the first, and the Rangers put their first two batters aboard in the third before loading the bases with two outs. Valdez induced Jonah Heim to fly out to center to end the threat, however.
Valdez retired the side in order in the fourth, fifth innings and sixth innings before pitching out of trouble in the seventh.
Two singles put runners on the corners for the Rangers, but Valdez struck out Ezequiel Duran and Bubba Thompson to escape that threat.
The Astros added to their lead in the seventh on an RBI single by Bregman and a sacrifice fly by Aledmys Diaz for a 7-0 lead.
Seth Martinez relieved Valdez to start the eighth and gave up RBI singles to Nathaniel Lowe and Taveras to make it 7-2.
Semien homered with two outs in the ninth to make it 7-3.
--Field Level Media