Houston is now 10-11

Astros back below .500 as Angels use late runs to avoid series sweep

Lance McCullers Jr. tossed a quality start Sunday. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Having worked their way back to .500 on the season by taking the first three games of this four-game series against Los Angeles, the Astros hoped to keep their momentum alive to make it a series sweep and improve to a winning record. The Angels would get some late runs to avoid the sweep, though, and flip-flopping positions in the division as the Astros fall back to a losing record and to fourth in the division:

Final Score: Angels 4, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 10-11, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Chris Rodriguez (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-2)

McCullers Jr. works around a tough fifth to get a quality start

Pitching on extended rest due to missing his last start with vaccine-related illness, Lance McCullers Jr. had a good outing despite one tough inning. After a 22-pitch first, he would settle in to retire ten in a row to start the fifth inning at 55 pitches and no runs allowed.

He lost momentum in the fifth, though, starting by hitting Albert Pujols with a pitch before loading the bases on a single and a walk. That would set up a bad-luck two-out two-RBI single that bounced up the first-base line and bounced up off the bag and out of the reach of Yuli Gurriel to extend the inning and give the Angels a 2-0 lead. Still, McCullers Jr. would finish that inning before returning for a scoreless sixth, completing a quality start: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 106 P.

Gurriel ties it in the seventh

Houston, who exploded for sixteen runs on Saturday, did not repeat that success against Dylan Bundy on Sunday through the first six innings. Over that span, they managed just two hits while getting just two runners to second base. Yuli Gurriel would finally get to Bundy, taking advantage of a hit-by-pitch to Yordan Alvarez in the at-bat prior by launching a two-run homer to tie the game and chase Bundy out of the game.

Angels pull ahead late to avoid the sweep

Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and erased a one-out double to get through a scoreless top of the seventh. In the eighth, he would give up a 440-foot go-ahead solo homer to Shohei Ohtani, putting the Angels back in front 3-2. He would go two more outs while hitting a batter before Brooks Raley would enter to get the third out.

After a 1-2-3 inning at the plate in the bottom of the eighth, Raley remained in the game in the top of the ninth to try and keep it a one-run game. Instead, a double then RBI single with one out would extend Los Angeles' lead to 4-2 before he would finish the inning. Houston would come up empty in the bottom of the ninth, coming a game short of the sweep and falling back to fourth place in the division and one game below .500.

Up Next: The second half of this eight-game homestand will start Monday night as the Astros welcome in the Mariners for a four-game series at 7:10 PM Central. Jose Urquidy (0-2, 5.14 ERA) will kick off the series for Houston, while Justus Sheffield (1-1, 4.86 ERA) will be on the mound for Seattle.

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Zack Greinke earned his 10th win of the season in Sunday's finale agains the Rangers. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the first two wins of the series under their belt, the Astros entered Sunday looking to take care of business before heading on the road. Despite the Rangers taking the first lead of the day, the Astros responded on offense and defense to erase the deficit to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 3, Rangers 1

Astros' Record: 61-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (10-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dennis Santana (0-1)

Greinke, with some help, notches a quality start

Zack Greinke was doing well in the early goings of Sunday's finale. Despite allowing back-to-back singles to start the game, he stranded both runners to finish the top of the first. He followed that by erasing two more runners in the second, starting a stretch of eight straight batters which he would retire to make it through one out in the top of the fifth without allowing a run.

Texas finally added a blemish to his day at that point, getting a solo homer to grab their first lead in weeks. Greinke rebounded from it, sitting down the next two batters to finish the frame, then posted a 1-2-3 sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh, but would end his day with a struggle, loading the bases with no outs on a single, hit batter, and walk. That prompted Dusty Baker to bring in Cristian Javier, who saved Greinke's stat line by getting a strikeout and double play to keep the Rangers from scoring. Greinke's line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 86 P.

Houston grabs the lead

Houston's starter would leave in line for the win, thanks to the work of Cristian Javier, but also some timely offense in the two innings prior. With not much going for them in the first four innings, the Astros tried to take advantage of Chas McCormick being on base in the bottom of the fifth, sending him for a potential hit and run with Abraham Toro swinging.

That turned into two runs, with McCormick able to slow his run as Toro would launch a two-run go-ahead homer to erase the Rangers lead quickly. They extended the lead to two runs in the next inning, with Yordan Alvarez working a walk and then later scoring on an RBI single by Kyle Tucker, making it 3-1.

Astros finish the sweep

After cleaning up the inherited mess in the top of the seventh, Javier remained on the mound in the top of the eighth and made it through a 1-2-3 inning to give him six outs against five batters. With it still a two-run game in the top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save opportunity. He notched it, sitting down the Rangers 1-2-3 to finish the sweep, handing Texas their twelfth straight loss.

Up Next: The Astros will head out west for an eight-game road trip starting with a three-game set with the Mariners kicking off at 9:10 PM Central on Monday. In the opener, Luis Garcia (7-5, 2.86 ERA) for Houston is slated to go opposite Darren McCaughan (0-0, 1.80 ERA), who will make his second career appearance and first start for Seattle.

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