HOUSTON (AP) Yordan Alvarez played just two games in spring training while dealing with a sore left hand.
That limited work certainly hasn't slowed Houston's slugger early this season.
Alvarez doubled with three RBIs to back up a strong start by rookie Hunter Brown and help the Astros to a 8-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
Alvarez tied the game with a two-RBI double in the third, and his bases-loaded walk started the scoring in a five-run seventh that pushed the lead to 8-2.
He leads the majors with 20 RBIs and joins Lance Berkman (2002) as the only players in franchise history to have 20 RBIs in the first 15 games of a season.
“The biggest thing is just all the work that I put in,” Alvarez said in Spanish through a translator. “Unfortunately, in the offseason and spring training I wasn’t able to work the bat a lot. But I tried to keep myself prepared physically ... and I think now we’re seeing some of the results there.”
Brown (2-0) allowed five hits and two runs - none earned - with five strikeouts in seven innings to lower his ERA to 1.93.
“He’s pitching with a lot of determination and a lot of fire,” manager Dusty Baker said. “And he made pitches tonight when he had to.”
Texas right-hander Jon Gray left the game with no outs in the third inning with a bruised forearm after being hit on the throwing elbow with a comebacker.
Rangers' manager Bruce Bochy said Gray was lifted because he had numbness in his arm after he was hit. But he added that X-rays were negative and he expects him to make his next start.
Bochy was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing balls and strikes as Texas struggled after winning Friday's series opener 6-2.
The Astros led by 1 in the seventh when Jake Meyers and Mauricio Dubón hit back-to-back singles before Alex Bregman walked to load the bases. Ian Kennedy then walked Alvarez to make it 4-2.
José Abreu reached on a fielder’s choice after hitting a chopper to shortstop Josh Smith that he deflected for an error, allowing two runs to score.
Kennedy was replaced by Josh Sborz, who walked Kyle Tucker to load the bases again and send Bochy out onto the field to argue with home plate umpire Erich Bacchus. Jeremy Peña drove in two more runs with a line drive to left field that made it 8-2.
“It just got out of hand there in that seventh inning,” Bochy said. “And that's a tough one because we had a guy throwing the ball really well, had a lead and unfortunately it did happen.”
The Rangers took an early lead thanks to a miscue by Houston. Robbie Grossman reached to start the second on an error by Dubón, when he overthrew first base.
Travis Jankowski singled to send Grossman to third. But Grossman got caught in a rundown when Leody Taveras reached on a fielder’s choice.
Marcus Semien singled to score Jankowski and make it 1-0 before Brown plunked Josh Smith. There were two outs in the inning when Adolis García drove in a run with an infield single to put Texas up 2-0.
There were no outs in the bottom of the third when Yanier Díaz hit a comebacker that bounced off Gray’s elbow. He threw a couple of warmup pitches after being looked at by a trainer, but eventually left the game and was replaced by Cole Ragans (2-1).
Ragans struck out Meyers before a Dubón singled to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. Alvarez’s double came with two outs to score both runners and tie it at 2.
Peña and Corey Julks hit consecutive singles with one out in the fourth before the Astros took the lead when Peña scored on a sacrifice fly by Díaz.
Astros: CF Chas McCormick was out of the lineup but feeling better a day after leaving the game in the third inning with vision problems. He could return Sunday.
Ralph Garr, who had a 13-year MLB career and won the NL batting title in 1974, threw out the ceremonial first pitch as part of Houston’s celebration of Jackie Robinson Day. His best friend, manager Dusty Baker, who played with Garr for eight seasons in Atlanta, caught the throw and gave his old friend a big hug afterward.
UP NEXT Houston RHP Framber Valdez (1-1, 1.89 ERA) opposes LHP Andrew Heaney (1-1, 8.22) when the series wraps up Sunday.
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