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Astros drop 10th straight as Rangers roll 12-0

Tuesday - 9/24/2013, 12:25am  ET

Texas Rangers third base coach Gary Pettis, left, congratulates Alex Rios on his RBI triple off of Houston Astros relief pitcher David Martinez in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. The triple completed the cycle for Rios. The Rangers won 12-0. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Bo Porter's view isn't changing as the losses pile up for his Houston Astros.

Even after a season-high 10 straight defeats.

Alex Rios hit for the cycle, Derek Holland struck out nine in his second shutout of the season and the Rangers started their final push for a playoff spot with a 12-0 victory over the Astros on Monday night.

"This was definitely not the result we wanted," Porter said. "But motivation can go both ways. This lets us know how good we have to be. We've got to come back out and fight even harder."

The Astros pushed their season strikeout total to 1,477 -- more than 100 ahead of No. 2 Minnesota. Houston locked up its third straight season of at least 106 losses and needs one more to match last year's franchise record.

The current losing streak -- which included four to wild-card contender Cleveland over the weekend -- is second-longest in this miserable three-season stretch for Houston. The Astros lost 12 straight last year.

"They looked like the team fighting for a playoff spot," Houston's Trevor Crowe said. "Our guys are mentally and physically ready to play, but teams in the race have a little extra motivation."

The Rangers pulled within a game of the idle Indians for the second AL wild-card berth with six games remaining.

If they want to celebrate a fourth straight season in the playoffs, the Rangers will have to keep it up in the final two games against the Astros and a four-game finishing series against the Los Angeles Angels -- all at home.

"We have to focus on the things that we have to do to win a game at a time," said Rios, who completed the cycle in his only four at-bats and drove in four runs. "It doesn't do any good for us to look at what's happening around us."

Rios finished the cycle with a triple to right-center field in the sixth inning, pulling into third standing up without a throw and later scoring to put Texas up 11-0. He doubled in the first inning, had an infield single in the third and hit his 18th homer for a 9-0 lead in the fourth.

He didn't get a chance for a fifth hit. Engel Beltre replaced him in right field in the seventh as one of the mass substitutions in a game that was out of hand early. Both teams used 14 players.

"You wish that in your career that you could have done that," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "It worked out perfectly for him. He hit it in the perfect part of the field and with his speed he was able to do it."

Holland (10-9) got his 10th win in his ninth try since his last victory on Aug. 4. The left-hander won at home for the first time since May 31.

Houston starter Jordan Lyles (7-9) gave up seven hits and seven runs with three walks in three innings.

Rios looked like he wanted to get the triple of the way in the first inning, going about 25 feet beyond the bag at second before pulling up on a two-run double. He had his fourth RBI on the triple, bringing home Elvis Andrus.

The first cycle of Rios' career was the seventh in Rangers' history. Adrian Beltre was the last to do it, last Aug. 24 against Seattle.

It was the third cycle in the majors this year -- Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels on May 21 and the Astros' Brandon Barnes on July 19, both against Seattle.

Three of the six singles allowed by Holland didn't leave the infield. He's a 10-game winner for the third straight season. His other shutout was a two-hitter in a 2-0 win over the New York Yankees on June 27.

Lyles was gone after a four-run third that ended on a three-run double by Leonys Martin, who was thrown out trying to go to third on a ball that went to the wall near the 407-foot sign in right-center field.

"It was just like every other bad outing," said Lyles, whose ERA rose to 5.59 in what is expected to be his final start of the season. "You don't like it, and you try to forget it after a couple of days."

NOTES: Rios' homer snapped a six-game streak without a long ball for Texas at Rangers Ballpark. ... Astros rookie C Max Stassi rejoined the team in the same ballpark where he was hit by a pitch in the jaw and missed a month with a concussion. Stassi hadn't played since Aug. 21 at Rangers Ballpark, where a pitch from Texas reliever Tanner Scheppers glanced off his left shoulder and hit him in the jaw the day after his major league debut. He went 0 for 1 on Monday.


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