Colon perfect until 8th in Rangers' victory


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HOUSTON — Bartolo Colon didn’t get his perfect game. He came six outs short on a night he was matched up in a dazzling pitching duel with Astros ace Justin Verlander. But for the second straight night, the Rangers knocked off the World Series-champion Astros with a heart-pumping 10th-inning win.

Robinson Chirinos smashed a two-run double in the top of the 10th to drive in the go-ahead runs, and the Rangers held on for a 3-1 victory on Sunday. They ended up taking two of three at Minute Maid over the weekend, with both wins coming in extra innings.

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HOUSTON — Bartolo Colon didn’t get his perfect game. He came six outs short on a night he was matched up in a dazzling pitching duel with Astros ace Justin Verlander. But for the second straight night, the Rangers knocked off the World Series-champion Astros with a heart-pumping 10th-inning win.

Robinson Chirinos smashed a two-run double in the top of the 10th to drive in the go-ahead runs, and the Rangers held on for a 3-1 victory on Sunday. They ended up taking two of three at Minute Maid over the weekend, with both wins coming in extra innings.

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“Yeah, two really big wins,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “We’re getting back kind of into the swing of winning baseball, and doing a number of things correctly in the game. Starting pitching, defense, bullpen throwing up zeros, and some timely hitting. All-around, all-team win, again, I’ll say it again: It only took everybody.”

Video: TEX@HOU: Chirinos cranks a two-run double in 10th

The Rangers, despite a 3-1 lead, couldn’t relax until Jake Diekman struck out Jake Marisnick with two on and two out in the 10th to earn the save.

“The last two nights have been special,” left fielder Joey Gallo said. “Through the adversity and faced with the injuries, guys have stepped up and contributed against the World Series champions. It shows a lot about our character. We are going to fight in every game and keep fighting until the last out. The last two games have shown our heart and character.”

Video: TEX@HOU: Diekman K’s Marisnick to secure the win

Verlander was equal to Colon’s brilliance, allowing only one hit through eight innings. It just happened to be a home run by Chirinos that gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the third.

Colon took that lead and a perfect game into the eighth, but his quest ended when he walked Carlos Correa to open the inning. Josh Reddick followed with a double over first base to end the no-hit bid, and a sacrifice fly by Yuli Gurriel ended the shutout. Colon then retired Marwin Gonzalez on a fly to center, and that was the end of his night.

Video: TEX@HOU: Reddick breaks up the no-hitter with double

“Yeah, when I pitched seven innings … I started thinking about it,” Colon said. “But I know that [Jose] Altuve and those guys can hit. Yeah, the sinker and the fastball; it was pretty much exactly what I wanted. It means a lot, not just for me, but for the team, because we won.

Colon was only starting because Doug Fister went on the disabled list after his start on Monday with a strained right hip muscle. Otherwise Colon would still be pitching out of the Rangers’ bullpen.

“He was tough,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “We know he lives on the edge. He gets you wanting a perfect pitch and then when you don’t get it, it seemed like we weren’t able to capitalize. He’s a strike-thrower, had an exceptional game. He kept the ball on the ground, he pitched us in, pitched us away, pitched us up, pitched us down. He’s reinvented himself as a guy who can attack different parts of the strike zone, and we saw every bit of it tonight.”

The baseball world was loving Colon’s brush with history

Had Colon completed the perfect game, it would have been the 24th such performance in MLB history. In addition, he would have passed Nolan Ryan (44 years, 90 days on May 1, 1991) to become the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter by 235 days. Randy Johnson (40 years, 252 days on May 18, 2004) is the oldest player to throw a perfect game.

“I don’t ever think about what age I am, or who I’m facing. I always try to do my job,” said Colon. “I’m happy doing my job, and that’s what I think about.”

Added Banister: “Look, it was probably the top three games I’ve ever been involved in. Yeah, I was getting excited. You find yourself pulling for it. A lot of different things run through your mind in those types of situations. It was his game.”

Facts, stats from epic Colon-Verlander duel

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Chirinos goes deep: Chirinos had the game’s only hit until the eighth inning. He hit a curveball over the left-field wall for a home run leading off the third. He has two home runs in nine career at-bats against Verlander.

Video: TEX@HOU: Chirinos opens the scoring with a solo homer

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Colon makes terrific play: Colon helped himself in the fourth when George Springer smacked a grounder back up the middle. Colon knocked it down, kept it in front of him and was able to scramble after it to get the out.

Correa, who was wearing a microphone for ESPN during the broadcast, marveled at the play: “How did he get a glove on that? That was a rocket.”

Video: TEX@HOU: Colon reacts quickly to knock down grounder

HE SAID IT
“I thought it was going to happen. In the sixth inning, when I got hit by a pitch, I went to first base and Marwin Gonzalez told me, ‘You’re not going to catch a no-hitter tonight.’ Well, the only other time I caught a perfect game was in Venezuela and Marwin Gonzalez was the last out. So I told him, ‘I’m going to catch a perfect game, and you are going to be one of the last outs.'” — Chirinos

Colon cool as ice during bid for perfection

Video: TEX@HOU: Colon plays it cool during bid for perfecto

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last pitcher older than Colon to take a no-hitter into the eighth inning or later was Gaylord Perry, for the Royals against the Orioles on Aug. 19, 1983. He was 44 years and 338 days old.

WHAT’S NEXT?
Left-hander Martin Perez will seek his first career win against the Rays when he squares off with Blake Snell at 6:10 p.m. CT Monday in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field. Perez is 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA in five career starts and one relief appearance against Tampa Bay.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.