ARLINGTON -- One of the biggest reasons the Rangers are still in the playoff hunt in the final days of the regular season is the overwhelming success they've enjoyed against their Lone Star State rival Astros, who proved be a major mismatch again Monday night.
The Rangers continued their dominance over the Astros, getting a six-hit shutout from Derek Holland and watching outfielder Alex Rios hit for the cycle to send the Astros to their 10th consecutive loss, 12-0, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"We've had some rough ones, but tonight the Rangers took it to us," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Tonight, give the Texas Rangers credit. They took it to us in every facet of the ballgame. They took it to us from pitch No. 1."
The losing streak is the longest for the Astros since they dropped 12 in a row last season, and Houston's 106 losses match its 2011 club as the second-most in history. The Astros lost a club-record 107 games last season.
The Rangers are 15-2 against the Astros this year and one game above .500 (70-69) against everybody else on their schedule.
"We know we always play well against the Astros, so it was good to jump on them quickly and get a good lead early," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said.
During their losing streak, the Astros admittedly haven't matched the intensity of their opposition. It's their eighth consecutive loss against teams that are fighting for a playoff spot, so they're not exactly playing spoilers.
"I don't think there's any lack of effort or preparation," said outfielder Trevor Crowe, who had a pair of singles and a walk and snapped an 0-for-14 drought. "I just think it's the reality of the situation we're in. Guys are up for games mentally and physically ready to play, but subconsciously, teams that are in the race have that little edge, that little extra adrenaline, that momentum."
In his final start of the season, Astros starter Jordan Lyles (7-9) was rocked for seven runs in three innings. He allowed 14 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in his final two starts of the season, leaving him with a 5.59 ERA.
"Just like every other bad outing, you don't like it and you don't enjoy your next couple of days," he said. "Looking back on this season, it just doesn't boil down to this last outing. Just another bad outing to go along with this season."
Lyles is still only 22 years old and will come to camp next year needing to build on the strong spurts he had this year. He posted a 3.11 ERA over an 11-game stretch from May 17-July 10 and appeared to have turned the corner, but he has too often been inconsistent.
"We had some runs in there that were pretty good and had some low lows, and just have to make those lows not as low next year," he said. "I know I can pitch at this level and be successful, but I can't have these kind of nights. I've just got to get better at pitching with guys on base and not letting other things distract me when the tough gets going."
Holland (10-9) threw his seventh career shutout, which is the most by a left-handed pitcher in Rangers history. He had been winless in his previous eight starts, which was the longest drought of his career.
"He's always tough," Brandon Barnes said. "He's a good pitcher. He commands his fastball really well in and out of the zone. He's got a little cutter and two-seam fastball he runs up to 95 [mph]. When he's locating, you kind of have to sit in one spot and hope it goes there."
Rios put the Rangers ahead, 2-0, in the first inning with a two-run double, and the Rangers scored in each of the first four innings. Leonys Martin had a three-run double in the third inning to stretch the lead to 7-0, and Rios homered in the fourth to make it 9-0.
David Martinez followed Lyles to the mound and gave up five runs (four earned) and seven hits in three innings. The Rangers scored three times in the sixth to take a 12-0 lead, including an RBI triple by Rios that gave him the seventh cycle in Rangers history.
"Tonight was tough," Porter said. "You look at the outing and you see the number of runs. They hit some balls hard. You say to yourself, 'You know this guy [Lyles] has great stuff.' For whatever reason, tonight just wasn't a good night for him. It's his last start of the season. I'm pretty sure this will definitely be motivation for him moving into the offseason and getting ready for next year."