Houston is back on top

Astros take control of division with series win over A's

The Astros took two of three in Oakland to get back on top of the AL West. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an impressive win to even the series on Wednesday night, the Astros forced a winner-take-all finale for not only the victory of the three-game set but for sole possession of first place in the AL West. They would accomplish their mission, taking two of three in Oakland to continue their recent success.

Final Score: Astros 8, A's 4

Astros' Record: 26-18, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (2-3)

Losing Pitcher: Cole Irvin (3-5)

Houston builds up a lead behind Garcia

Unlike recent games where Houston scored first to take an early lead, Mark Canha started the scoring Thursday afternoon with a solo home run off of Luis Garcia to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Oakland held that 1-0 lead until the top of the third when the Astros would put together a three-run inning on four hits, including an RBI double by Martin Maldonado and back-to-back RBI singles by Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman. That made it a two-run lead for Houston at 3-1.

Former Astro Tony Kemp got one of those runs back to lead off the bottom of the inning, launching Oakland's second solo homer of the day, making it 3-2. Maldonado would make it back-to-back RBI at-bats in the top of the fourth, though, hitting a two-run homer to extend the lead to three runs. Garcia limited Oakland to those two solo homers over his five innings of work, allowing just one more hit in the third through fifth. His final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 92 P.

Astros win the series and move into first in the AL West

Brooks Raley took over out of the bullpen in the top of the sixth, getting through the inning but allowing a run on two hits to cut the lead to two runs. Bregman notched another RBI in the next inning to get it right back, a double to make it 6-3. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, erasing a leadoff double for a scoreless bottom of the seventh. Ryne Stanek had the bottom of the eighth but put himself into a jam by hitting and walking a batter to start things off. After back-to-back strikeouts, he would issue another walk to load the bases, prompting Dusty Baker to bring in closer Ryan Pressly for a potential four-out save.

He would strand all three runners to get out of the jam, then a costly error by Oakland would extend the top of the ninth where Houston would add on two runs to make it a five-run game at 8-3. No longer a save situation, Pressly would stay in the dugout while Andre Scrubb would come in to finish things off, despite allowing a solo home run in the inning. The victory gave the Astros the series win and moved them a half-game ahead of Oakland to take over first place in the AL West.

Up Next: The Astros will travel back to Texas, heading to Arlington to take on the Rangers at Globe Life Field, starting a three-game set Friday at 7:05 PM Central. Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.32 ERA) will be on the mound for the Rangers, while the Astros will be bringing up Tyler Ivey to make his MLB debut.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Luis Garcia played his part in a pitcher's duel with Carlos Rodon on Friday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With an impressive offensive onslaught to overpower Chicago in game one of this series, the Astros entered this second of four games hoping to keep their momentum going. After an impressive pitcher's duel left the game tied late into the game, Houston would edge out the win with a big walk-off in the ninth.

Final Score: Astros 2, White Sox 1

Astros' Record: 41-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryan Pressly (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Garrett Crochet (2-3)

Garcia matches Rodon in a pitcher's duel

Both starting pitchers were very effective, save one inning, in their respective seven innings of work. For Luis Garcia, he had his struggles in the top of the first to start the game, allowing a one-out double and single to put runners on second and third, setting up an RBI single to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead.

He limited the damage to that one run, both in that inning and the rest of his night, as he would follow that with six straight scoreless frames. Once he found his groove in the fourth, he would retire 12 of 13 batters he faced over that span to get through seven one-run innings. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 96 P.

For Houston, it took until one out into the fifth inning to get a hit and their first baserunner against Carlos Rodon. That sparked an opportunity to grab a lead, as they would go on to load the bases still with one out but would get just one run out of it with a two-out RBI walk by Martin Maldonado to tie the game up 1-1.

Astros walk it off in the ninth

Ryne Stanek was first out of Houston's bullpen in the top of the eighth, erasing a one-out walk for a scoreless inning to keep things gridlocked. Still in a stalemate in the top of the ninth, the Astros opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly to try and keep it tied to set up a potential walk-off. He was perfect, striking out Chicago 1-2-3 to send it to the home half.

In the bottom of the ninth, Yuli Gurriel got the winning run on base by hitting a one-out single. That brought Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who got the walk-off hit, roping a ball into the right-field corner deep enough for Gurriel to hustle from first to home to win it for Houston, 2-1.

Up Next: Now having won five in a row, the Astros will try to lock up this series in game three of four on Saturday at 6:15 PM Central. Lance Lynn (7-2, 1.51 ERA) will try to get a win for the White Sox, while Framber Valdez (3-0, 1.42 ERA) will look to continue his 2021 success for Houston.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome