The Rangers remained a game behind Cleveland for the AL's second wild-card spot — Tampa Bay is a game ahead of the Indians. Texas has four games left in the regular season, with the series opener at home against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
"We put ourselves in this position. We have to win the games, we've got to get help from someone else," Kinsler said. "The best we can do is win four more games."
The Rangers' 17 wins are the most Texas has ever had against a team in the same season, and Cleveland won its 17th against the White Sox on Wednesday night. The last team with 17 wins against another opponent before that was Oakland over Seattle in 2006.
Houston finished with a 27-54 record on the road, still its most wins away from home since 2010.
Ten of the first 11 outs by Texas came on groundballs against Dallas Keuchel (6-10), one of the majors' best with a 2½-to-1 ratio of groundballs to flyballs.
In the Rangers third, Craig Gentry reached on a throwing error by shortstop Jonathan Villar. After a stolen base and a wild pitch, Gentry scored when Elvis Andrus hit what could have been an inning-ending double play grounder. But the ball slipped out of second baseman Jose Altuve's hand when he tried to make the relay throw to first.
Altuve, whose 39 hits in September are most in the majors, opened the Astros fourth with a double off the left-field wall and scored on a single by Chris Carter. Brandon Laird's two-run homer made it 3-1.
Keuchel got the first two outs of the fourth on grounders before the Rangers loaded the bases on Jeff Baker's single, a walk and a hit batsman. Martin cleared the bases with a double to right.