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Cole Hamels pitches Texas Rangers to sweep of Houston Astros

By
MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cole Hamels. Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI.
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cole Hamels. Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI. | License Photo

HOUSTON -- Cole Hamels completed what Colby Lewis and Cesar Ramos started earlier this weekend, stifling the Houston Astros while leading the Texas Rangers to a 9-2 win on Sunday and a three-game series sweep at Minute Maid Park.

Hamels (5-0) worked eight innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts. He delivered to Texas (25-19) a third consecutive quality start in the series as the Rangers swept the Astros (17-28) for a second time in as many series this season.

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But unlike Friday and Saturday night when they needed their bullpen to preserve one-run leads, the Rangers scored early and often enough to allow Hamels to coast. In what marked another substandard start for Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel (2-6), Texas posted five runs in the third inning to provide Hamels with the cushion he needed to thrive.

After catcher Bobby Wilson and center fielder Ian Desmond recorded run-scoring hits off Keuchel, third baseman Adrian Beltre roped a two-run double to left field to double Texas' 2-0 lead. Left fielder Nomar Mazara added an RBI single that scored Beltre and capped the outburst.

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Keuchel had an opportunity to escape the third with just one run on his ledger, but Wilson scored just ahead of the tag from catcher Jason Castro following an errant throw from right fielder George Springer on the Desmond single. Wilson added an RBI single in the fourth inning before second baseman Hanser Alberto ripped a run-scoring hit to left off Keuchel in the sixth inning following an 0-for-2 start to his afternoon.

Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner, dropped his fifth consecutive decision for his longest losing streak since 2012. He allowed seven runs on nine hits and one walk with six strikeouts over six innings and saw his ERA swell to 5.92 through 10 starts this season.

Mazara added a two-run, two-out homer to right field off Astros right-hander Pat Neshek in the seventh inning for his sixth homer.

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Hamels retired the first seven batters he faced before Castro reached on an Alberto error with one out in the third. Castro eventually scored on a Jose Altuve groundout.

Following a double by Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick in the third, Hamels didn't allow another hit until Evan Gattis blasted a solo home run, his fourth, with two outs in the sixth inning. Hamels allowed three additional singles but was relatively unchallenged while setting a season high for strikeouts.

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The Rangers have won 14 of 16 games against Houston.

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NOTES: Rangers RHP Yu Darvish was scheduled to make his fifth and final rehab start on Sunday with Double-A Frisco and, barring any setbacks, will rejoin the Texas rotation on Saturday against the Pirates. Darvish last pitched for the Rangers in Aug. 9, 2014, and underwent Tommy John surgery on March 17, 2015. ... With the Astros facing a left-handed starter (Rangers LHP Cole Hamels) for the third time in four games, switch-hitting INF Marwin Gonzalez was back in the lineup. Gonzalez entered the series finale with an .850 OPS against left-handed pitching. Last season he hit .295 (41-for-139) with an .843 OPS against southpaws. ... Texas manager Jeff Banister announced LHP Derek Holland as his starter for the series opener against the Angels on Monday. LHP Martin Perez will start the middle game and RHP Colby Lewis the finale.

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