Houston comes a game short of the sweep

Astros drop finale to Rays with Yankees on deck

Yordan Alvarez's good day at the plate wasn't enough for Houston against the Rays on Sunday. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Already having the series locked up by taking the first two games, the Astros entered the finale against the Rays on Sunday looking for the three-game sweep. The Rays would avoid it, getting some timely runs late to hand Houston the loss.

Final Score: Rays 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 15-13, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jeffrey Springs (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brooks Raley (0-1)

Houston scores first, again

After three scoreless innings, with the Rays wasting a prime opportunity to score first in the bottom of the second, Houston would get on the board first with a Yordan Alvarez 424-foot solo home run in the top of the fourth. They would get runners on second and third with no outs in the top of the fifth, bringing both of them home on a sac fly by Jose Altuve and RBI single by Michael Brantley, extending the lead to 3-0.

Tampa Bay responds as teams trade runs

It looked like Cristian Javier would follow the same game plan as the last two starters in this series; take advantage of a lead by going deep into the game without allowing any runs. After four scoreless, Javier would put himself into trouble in the bottom of the fifth, issuing a walk and hitting a batter, putting two on base to set up a three-run game-tying homer. He would finish that inning before the Astros moved to their bullpen the rest of the way. Javier's final line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 81 P.

Houston regained the lead in the top of the sixth, with Yordan Alvarez leading the inning off with a double, then scoring on an RBI single by Myles Straw. Tampa Bay answered back immediately in the home half of the same inning against Byan Abreu, with a one-out double eventually turning into a run after a wild pitch and error.

Rays jump in front late and avoid the sweep

Still tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Brooks Raley took over on the mound but would only manage one out against his three batters, leaving a runner on first and third for Ryne Stanek. Stanek couldn't erase the inherited runners, giving up an RBI single to put Tampa Bay back in front 5-4 before the inning was over.

After the Astros went down in order in the top of the eighth, Kent Emanuel took over out of the bullpen to try and keep it a one-run game. He did his job, getting a 1-2-3 frame with two strikeouts, but the Astros would not mount a rally in the top of the ninth, ending this series with a loss.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow as they travel to New York in advance of a highly-anticipated three-game series with the Yankees. The opener will get started at 6:05 PM Central on Tuesday, with Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.44 ERA) on the mound for Houston and Domingo German (2-2, 4.05 ERA) for New York.

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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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