HOUSTON -- The Rangers had a chance to close the gap on the Astros, but couldn't hold onto a lead in the late innings on Friday night as Houston rallied for a 4-3 victory at Minute Maid Park in the opener of a three-game series.
Neal Cotts gave up a one-out, two-run home run to Robbie Grossman in the bottom of the eighth as the Astros took the lead for the first time. Grossman's fifth home run, and third hit of the game, scored Jon Singleton, who led off the inning with a single. Cotts also allowed a run-scoring double by Gregorio Petit to give the Astros a 4-2 lead.
Texas led early on a two-run, first-inning home run from J.P. Arencibia. The Rangers were trying to get to within a half game of the Astros for fourth place in the division.
The Rangers wasted little time in taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Arencibia's eighth home run, a deep ball to left field off left-hander Brett Oberholtzer, scored Shin-Soo Choo, who led off the game with a single.
Activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday's game, catcher Geovany Soto was hitless in his first three at-bats.
Texas starter Miles Mikolas, who was working on an extended five days' rest, was hitting 96 mph, and consistently hitting mid 90s with his four-seam fastball.
In five innings, the right-hander allowed only one run -- a Chris Carter homer in the fifth -- and four hits with four strikeouts and three walks. He retired Jose Altuve, who entered the game tied for the American League lead in batting at .335, all three times he faced Houston's second baseman. Altuve left the game after five innings with discomfort in his neck.
Mikolas was sailing along with a two-run cushion until Carter hit his club-leading 25th home run with two outs in the fifth. Carter struck out in his first two at-bats against Mikolas, who threw 64 strikes out of 105 pitches.
After Carter's home run, the Astros had a mild threat. Marc Krauss followed with a double toward the right-field line that dropped in. It appeared second baseman Roughned Odor was running out to make the play, but at the last moment shied away from the ball, which dropped between Odor and right fielder Choo.
The Rangers avoided further trouble when Singleton popped out to third baseman Adrian Beltre to end the inning.
Mikolas got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, getting Altuve to fly out to center fielderLeonys Martin for the third out, preserving Texas' 2-0 lead. The Astros loaded the bases after a replay challenge confirmed that Marwin Gonzalez's jersey had been hit by an inside pitch from Mikolas.
In the fourth, Mikolas struck out Gonzalez swinging for the third out with runners at first and second.
Shawn Tolleson, who relieved Mikolas for the sixth inning, got out of a jam in the inning after retiring three straight batters after allowing singles to Matt Dominguez and Grossman.