ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Andrew Cashner pitched eight strong innings, Mike Napoli hit a three-run homer and the Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 8-1 Wednesday night in a game relocated to Florida because of Hurricane Harvey.
A crowd of 6,123 – up from 3,485 the previous night for the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field – watched Cashner (8-9) limit the AL West leaders to three hits, one after the second inning.
Napoli’s homer off Dallas Keuchel (11-3) capped a six-run fourth inning for the Rangers, who’ve won two straight following a three-game skid.
Houston’s third loss in four games was overshadowed by the announcement earlier Wednesday that the Astros will return to home after Thursday’s finale to face the New York Mets this weekend.
After an unscheduled day off, the Astros will play a doubleheader Saturday and afternoon game Sunday against the Mets.
Manager A.J. Hinch broke the news to relieved players at an afternoon meeting. In addition to reuniting with family and friends, many of them plan to spend part of Friday assisting people affected by the storm.
Returning to Minute Maid Park figures to be emotional.
”I know it will be a warm welcome. … You never know how much home means to you until you’re not allowed to go home,” Hinch said, adding it’s difficult to anticipate exactly what the scene will be like Saturday.
”Our attention is still going to be centered around the city and all the devastation that’s going on,” the manager added. ”If we can provide any sort of relief, or any sort of escape, or any part of a distraction away from what’s going on, I think that’s going to be part of it.”
Keuchel retired 10 in a row to begin the game before Texas broke through for six runs within a span of six batters. Joey Gallo drew a bases-loaded walk, Carlos Gomez delivered a two-run single and Napoli capped the surge with his 28th homer of the season.
Cashner, meanwhile, shut the Astros down after giving up a single, double and Carlos Beltran’s sacrifice fly in the second inning. The right-hander allowed two baserunners after the that, one of them on an error.
Ricky Rodriguez finished the combined four-hitter, giving up an infield single to Jose Altuve in the ninth.
The loss dropped Keuchel to 2-3 over seven starts since returning from a stint on the 15-day disabled list due to neck discomfort. The Astros ace allowed six runs, five hits, three walks and struck out seven over six innings.
Rangers: LHP Jake Diekman, continuing a comeback from three abdominal operations, pitched one scoreless inning for Double-A Frisco on Tuesday. In six rehab outings with Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock, allowed one earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa, on the 10-day disabled since July 18 due to a torn ligament in his left thumb, is expected to make two more minor league rehab starts before being activated as early as Sunday against the Mets.
Right-hander Nick Martinez (3-5, 5.26 ERA) starts the series finale for the Rangers. The Astros counter with right-hander Collin McHugh (2-2, 3.63).
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