A little more than an hour before Thursday’s first pitch, Rays manager Joe Maddon sat in the third-base dugout at Minute Maid Park and spoke about Yunel Escobar, dropping phrases such as “All-Star” and “Gold Glove” into the conversation.

“I’d like to see the shortstop who’s played better than he has this year,” Maddon said.

Maddon mentioned Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy and a few others, then returned to Escobar.

“I’m telling you, this guy has been impressive, consistently impressive,” Maddon said.

Then Escobar went out and played a game that was impressive, consistently impressive.

He helped the Rays beat the Astros 7-5 in 11 innings, with his glove and with his bat.

Escobar drove home the go-ahead run in the 11th with a double to right field. That was after he drove home what appeared to be two big insurance runs in the eighth inning with a double to the hill in deep center field.

In between doubles, Escobar prevented the Astros from doing further damage in their three-run eighth inning by ranging to his right to field a grounder by Matt Martinez and starting a have-to-see-it-to-believe-it inning-ending double play.

“He had himself a heck of a day,” Maddon said.

Escobar’s contributions were big on a day when the Rays again struggled with runners in scoring position (3-for-13) and Joel Peralta blew the three-run lead in the eighth by allowing a three-run homer.

It also enabled the Rays to take three of the four games during the series with the lowly Astros, a series that began a stretch of 14 games against the Astros, White Sox and Twins.