SCHUYLER DIXON, AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland both spent time on the bench during a homestand against Texas’ top two challengers at the moment in the AL West.
The struggling sluggers ended the seven-game stretch on a positive note, and the division-leading Rangers kept right on rolling.
Fielder homered for the first time since his brief benching, Moreland had a pair of doubles and the Rangers beat Houston 5-3 on Thursday in a game that Astros shortstop Carlos Correa exited with a sprained left ankle.
“The swings look a little bit closer, a little fresher,” said Texas manager Jeff Banister, who nodded ever so slightly while watching Fielder return to the dugout after his fourth-inning liner inside the foul pole in right. “These guys are good hitters. We’re going to continue to grind away with them.”
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Rougned Odor also homered as the Rangers clinched a franchise-record 10th straight home series victory. They took the finale of a four-game set a day after the Astros snapped a 12-game losing streak in Arlington with their first win of the season against their instate rivals.
Martin Perez (5-4) won his fourth straight start as the defending AL West champs finished 6-1 on a homestand that started with a sweep of Seattle in a series that began with the teams tied for first.
“I think we’re doing exactly what we want to be doing, exactly what we need to be doing,” said Moreland, who drove home Elvis Andrus from first in a three-run third after entering the game in a 6-for-59 slide that had dropped his average to .208. “We know what we have in here.”
Fielder’s homer off Collin McHugh (5-5) came after he sat two games last weekend when his average was at .187. Moreland was a late-inning defensive replacement in the first two games of the Houston series.
Jurickson Profar extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games, longest for Texas this season, with two singles and an RBI. Profar played third base on a scheduled day off for Adrian Beltre, who left Wednesday’s game early with tightness in his left hamstring.
Correa turned his ankle running out a groundout in the fifth when he ducked under a wide throw from Profar and took a large final stride at first base. His foot slipped off the bag, and he limped off the field after staying down for several minutes and didn’t return.
Although X-rays were negative, manager A.J. Hinch said Correa was unlikely to play Friday’s series opener at Tampa Bay.
“It was pretty scary,” said Jose Altuve, who moved to short from second base after the injury. “I came in right away. He said it was good and I felt better after that.”
Matt Bush struck out the side while issuing a walk in the eighth. Lefty Jake Diekman coaxed a double play for his first career save with closer Sam Dyson unavailable for a second day because of a heavy workload.
When Altuve moved to short, Tony Kemp took over at second. After Altuve’s second hit — an RBI single in the seventh — Kemp flied out to the fence in right field in a one-run game.
Odor, batting cleanup for the first time in his career, led off the eighth with his ninth homer for a two-run lead.
The lefty Perez allowed four hits and two runs with four walks in six innings.
Out of the majors for two seasons because of shoulder problems, Profar has a hit in every game since getting recalled from the minors to fill in at second during Odor’s seven-game suspension. Profar also has a hit in all 18 games as Texas’ leadoff man in his career.
A fan was on her cellphone in the right-field seats when she realized Fielder’s homer was headed her way. She instinctively put her hands up and the ball ricocheted off her phone, cracking the screen. Another fan got the ball and kept it, but a Rangers TV reporter gave her an autographed ball after an interview.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers (3-1, 4.23) pitches at Tampa Bay coming off a solid seven-inning outing in a 5-2 win over Oakland. He has struck out at least seven in four consecutive starts.
Rangers: LHP Derek Holland (5-4, 4.29) makes his second straight start against Seattle on Friday to begin a 10-game road trip. He’s looking for a third straight win and is 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA in four starts since consecutive outings that lasted less than three innings.
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