By Schuyler Dixon
The Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas — Alex Rios hit for the cycle, Derek Holland struck out nine in his second shutout of the season and the Texas Rangers started their final push for a playoff spot with a 12-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday night.
The Rangers pulled within a game of idle Cleveland for the second AL wild-card berth with six games remaining.
Rios finished off the cycle with a triple to right-center field in the sixth inning, and later scored to put Texas up 11-0. He doubled in the first inning, had an infield single in the third and hit his 18th homer in the fourth.
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.
The Astros pushed their season strikeout total to 1,477 — more than 100 ahead of No. 2 Minnesota on that list. Houston locked up its third straight season of at least 106 losses and needs one more to match last year’s franchise record.
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 hasn’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.
... Beltre, Texas’ leader in average, homers and RBIs, went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts, although he did have a sacrifice fly.