On Sunday, the Rangers kept their advantage, thanks to a complete game win from rookie starter, Martin Perez, who went the distance in a 6-1 win.
The victory was the first complete game of Perez's brief career. He threw 38 innings in 12 games in 2012, short of the 50 innings which would have used up his rookie status.
This season, he's filled in as needed, racking up a 5-3 record from 11 starts.
Perez had a shutout going until that was spoiled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, when Chris Carter smashed a solo homer for the Astros' only run of the game. Perez was unfazed, getting the next batter, Matt Dominguez, to ground back to the mound for the game's final out.
Perez yielded only four hits, walking two and striking out eight. He threw 80 of 115 pitches for strikes, getting first-pitch strikes on 25 of the 32 batters he faced.
The Rangers have taken three straight from Houston and won five straight overall. They will be going for a sweep of the four-game series Monday at 2:10 pm EDT, at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
NOTABLE: Yankee Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of the year - a solo shot in the second inning off Detroit's Justin Verlander - to tie Stan Musial for sixth place all-time in career RBI, with 1951. He passed Musial in his next at-bat, when he delivered Robinson Cano to the plate with a single in the third inning. The Yankees beat the Tigers, 5-4.
Sunday's complete game shutout by Stephen Strasburg may erase some of the regrets.
Strasburg threw his first career shutout as the Nationals completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies with a 6-0 win. Needing only 99 pitches (66 for strikes), Strasburgh allowed just four hits, walked one and fanned 10, improving his record to 6-9 on the year.
Despite his poor record, Strasburg has put up good numbers, with a 2.83 ERA in 23 starting assignments and 153 Ks in 146.1 innings of work.
Even with the win, the Nationals still trail the runaway Braves by 14 1/2 games in the NL East.
Today's Trivia: The AL record for walks allowed by a pitcher in a single season is 208. Who holds that dubious distinction? (answer tomorrow)
Yesterday's Answer: None other than the Big Unit, Randy Johnson, led the AL in walks each season from 1990 to 1992.