Verlander, Altuve, Astros wrap up sweep, rout Rangers 12-2

(TSX / STATS) -- ARLINGTON, Texas -- After thoroughly dominating the Texas Rangers in every aspect for three games, Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch was understandably impressed with his club.

"Pretty impressive just the way we swung the bats, we played some defense, we pitched well," he said. "It looked like we had a ton of energy. We were out to win these games. We did.

"I'm just really proud of our effort and proud of our execution. We also got a lot out of it because we could get some of the guys off the field, off their feet and got everybody involved. It was an incredible series."

George Springer drilled a grand slam and the Astros completed a sweep by blasting the Rangers 12-2 Wednesday afternoon in the series finale at Globe Life Park.

The Astros (98-60) improved to a season-best 38 games above .500 with their 11th win in the last 13 contests. Houston moved within a half-game of Cleveland for the best record in the American League, pending the result of the Indians' game against the Minnesota Twins later Wednesday.

The Rangers (76-82) suffered their sixth straight loss and are now assured of only their second losing season since 2009.

"The ability to score runs has been challenging for us and we've been challenged with some pitching," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.

Texas had won the AL West the last two years. That title now belongs to Houston, and it's easy to see why.

The last game between the two in-state rivals followed a familiar script. The Astros reached double figures in scoring in all three games and outscored Texas 37-7. Houston also scored at least 11 in all three games, a first in franchise history.

"It's big. Obviously, this is an important stretch for us," said Springer, whose fourth career grand slam and 34th homer broke the game open in the sixth.

"We know that we're headed into the playoffs, so to have the whole team top to bottom swinging the bats, the staff again was great, our pitching staff has been great all year, and they were great again. It was a great three games for us."

Carlos Correa went 4-for-5, including two home runs to up his season total to 23, and added four RBIs. Tony Kemp had three hits and drove in a pair of runs from the ninth spot in the order.

The Astros scored seven runs in the sixth and finished with 16 hits.

Jose Altuve, back in the lineup after missing one game, joined an exclusive group with a single in the first. The MVP candidate became just the fourth right-handed hitter all-time to reach at least 200 hits in four straight seasons.

Justin Verlander improved to 5-0 with Houston and 15-8 overall in his final start of the regular season. The veteran right-hander was effective, striking out 11 and allowing two runs on six hits over six innings.

"To go six innings, two runs, and get the win feels great," Verlander said. "The one thing I would have liked to have done was gone deeper in the game, at least seven, but that's nitpicking a little bit."

The Astros victimized Texas starter Nick Martinez with four soft singles in the first, including hit-and-run singles through the right side by Altuve and Correa, to go up 2-0 early.

Martinez dropped to 3-8 after allowing six runs on 10 hits in five-plus innings. Tony Barnette gave up five runs in relief.

Texas rookie Willie Calhoun drilled his first career homer in the second, a line shot to right off Verlander.

"It was pretty cool," said Calhoun, who was 2-for-3. "Obviously, facing one of the better pitchers in the whole MLB and I was able to put two good swings on him."

Rangers outfielder Drew Robinson had a solo homer for the second straight game.

The Astros finish the regular season with four games in Boston, which could be a preview of the AL Division Series. Houston has already locked up home-field advantage for the first round.

Texas finishes the season with four home games against Oakland.

NOTES: Houston 2B Jose Altuve joined Michael Young, Kirby Puckett and Al Simmons as just the fourth right-handed hitter all-time to have at least 200 hits in four straight seasons. ... The Astros won the season series 12-7. ... Houston's 98 wins are the second most in franchise history. The 1998 club went 102-60. The team's 50 road wins are a franchise record. ... Texas' last losing record was an injury-riddled 67-97 in 2014. ... Houston manager A.J. Hinch announced that RHP Lance McCullers will make his final start of the regular season Saturday at Boston.

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