Gerrit Cole struck out a season-high 12, Aledmys Díaz hit a grand slam while starting in place of injured star Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros beat the Texas Rangers 11-4 Saturday night.

Altuve sat out a night after straining his left hamstring, but Houston didn’t need him. Díaz took Kyle Dowdy deep into the Crawford Boxes for a 6-1 lead in the sixth, and the Astros didn’t look back.

Cole (4-4) gave up a run and four hits in six innings for his third straight win. He has at least eight strikeouts in eight of nine starts this season and leads the majors with 86 punchouts.

Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole reacts after striking out Texas Rangers' Hunter Pence to end the top of the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole reacts after striking out Texas Rangers’ Hunter Pence to end the top of the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

The Astros won their fourth straight game, handing Texas its fourth loss in five games, including three straight in Houston.

After Jesse Chavez started for Texas and retired all three batters in the first inning, Drew Smyly (0-3) made his first relief appearance since 2014. In 4 2/3 innings, Smyly allowed one run, four hits and four walks. He was pulled after walking the bases loaded before Díaz homered.

Hunter Pence hit his seventh homer in the second inning over a leaping Josh Reddick to put the Rangers up 1-0. Pence has homered in four of the last five games, and he had another robbed by Reddick on Thursday.

Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Michael Brantley tied it at 1 in the fourth with his 10th homer of the season.

Texas’ Ronald Guzman hit a towering homer off Chris Devenski that trimmed Houston’s lead to 6-4 in the seventh.

Houston answered with a three-run seventh, going back up 9-4 on an RBI single from Tyler White and a two-run single from Robinson Chirinos. The Astros added two more insurance runs in the eighth inning on RBI singles from Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel.

Texas Rangers' Hunter Pence (24) celebrates his solo home run off Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole with Elvis Andrus during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Texas Rangers’ Hunter Pence (24) celebrates his solo home run off Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole with Elvis Andrus during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

ALTUVE UPDATE

Houston manager AJ Hinch said he’s “not optimistic” Altuve can avoid the 10-day injured list. Hinch said Altuve has undergone tests and the team is still waiting for a final diagnosis on the severity of the injury.

MCHUGH TO THE BULLPEN

Houston Astros' Michael Brantley watches his solo home run off Texas Rangers relief pitcher Drew Smyly during the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Astros’ Michael Brantley watches his solo home run off Texas Rangers relief pitcher Drew Smyly during the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Hinch said he was moving Collin McHugh to the bullpen. After a 3-1 start to the season, McHugh allowed 25 runs in his last four starts, going 0-3 in that stretch. His ERA has ballooned to 6.37.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: RHP Shawn Kelley (infection) threw a bullpen session on Saturday. Kelley has been on the 10-day IL since May 6 with a bacterial infection.

Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, right, throws out Texas Rangers' Elvis Andrus as starting pitcher Gerrit Cole ducks during the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, right, throws out Texas Rangers’ Elvis Andrus as starting pitcher Gerrit Cole ducks during the fourth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

UP NEXT

Astros RHP Corbin Martin is expected to be called up from Triple-A Round Rock to make his MLB debut in place of McHugh on Sunday. The Rangers will start RHP Adrian Sampson (0-2, 4.41).

___

Texas Rangers' Ronald Guzman watches his three-run home run off Houston Astros relief pitcher Chris Devenski during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Texas Rangers’ Ronald Guzman watches his three-run home run off Houston Astros relief pitcher Chris Devenski during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Astros' Carlos Correa (1), George Springer, center, and Josh Reddick celebrates the team's 11-4 win over the Texas Rangers in a baseball game, Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Astros’ Carlos Correa (1), George Springer, center, and Josh Reddick celebrates the team’s 11-4 win over the Texas Rangers in a baseball game, Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

View more: