Houston ends three-game skid

Astros outscore Angels to take opener of four-game series

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After the disappointing sweep in San Diego to end their short road-trip with three straight losses, the Astros were back at home in Minute Maid Park against the last-place Angels to try and right the ship. Here is how the series opener unfolded:

Final Score: Astros 11, Angels 4.

Record: 16-13, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-2, 2.35 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Patrick Sandoval (0-4, 6.75 ERA).

Astros outscore Angels early

After a scoreless first inning on both sides, Houston would get on the board first in the bottom of the second. The first run came on a solo home run by Kyle Tucker to leadoff the inning before later an RBI-single by Josh Reddick would double the lead to 2-0.

The Angels took advantage of some sloppy baseball by the Astros in the top of the third. They scored a run to cut the lead in half by working a leadoff walk, moving the runner over on a fielder's choice, and then stealing third on a defensive miscue before getting an RBI-single to make it 2-1.

Houston responded right away, though, in the bottom of the inning. They would put together a three-run inning on an RBI-double by Michael Brantley, an RBI-single by Josh Reddick, and another scoring on an error, making it a 5-1 Astros advantage. The Angels would get one of those back in the top of the next inning, hitting a two-out solo home run off Frambre Valdez to make it 5-2.

Valdez finishes seven in line for the win

Los Angeles was able to put up two more runs against Valdez in the fifth, getting back-to-back two-out RBI-doubles to make it a one-run game at 5-4. Framber finished that inning, then returned to retire the next six batters in order over the sixth and seventh, including four more strikeouts to bring his total to eleven on the night, his last an inning-ending strikeout looking of Mike Trout. His final line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 1 HR, 113 pitches.

Houston was able to put up more runs on the Angels' bullpen in the bottom of the sixth. They worked two walks and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases, setting up a two-out bases-clearing double by Carlos Correa, followed by an RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to push the lead to 9-4.

Houston ends their three-game skid

In the bottom of the seventh, Michael Brantley led off with a double and then moved to third on a groundout. Martin Maldonado reached on a two-out walk, then Myles Straw, who entered to pinch-run for Springer earlier, would bring both in on a two-RBI double to make it a seven-run lead at 11-4.

With Valdez's night done after seven, Cionel Perez took over on the mound in the top of the eighth and retired the Angels in order for a 1-2-3 frame. He returned for the top of the ninth to finish off the game and did so to end Houston's three-game skid and take the first of four against Los Angeles.

Up Next: With tropical storm and expected hurricane Laura threatening the southeast-Texas area, the MLB decided to expedite this four-game series, moving Thursday's game to a part of a new double-header Tuesday. The first game will start at 3:05 PM Central with Jose Suarez (0-1, 33.75 ERA) working as a potential opener for a bullpen game for the Angles against Cristian Javier (2-1, 3.55 ERA) for the Astros. The second game will immediately follow with Julio Teheran (0-2, 10.38 ERA) on the mound for the Angels and a TBD starter for Houston.

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After rallying in the ninth inning in Game 1 to take the pivotal opener of this best-of-three ALWC series, the Astros were in the driver's seat to try and end the series on Wednesday with another win at Target Field. Here is a quick rundown of Game 2:

Final Score: Astros 3, Twins 1.

Series: HOU Wins 2-0.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Cody Stashak.

Houston gets the first hit and first run in the fourth

Through the first three innings, neither team could get a hit off of Jose Berrios or Jose Urquidy, though the Twins did load the bases in the bottom of the first on two walks and an error, but Urquidy would strand the runners before getting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Astros lineup was retired in order in three perfect innings by Berrios. That changed in the top of the fourth when Houston would get back-to-back two-out walks to set up the first hit of the game, an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Dusty Baker makes another early call to the bullpen before Twins tie it up

Urquidy was able to keep the 1-0 lead by working around a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, the first hit for the Twins. He returned in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single before a strikeout for the first out. Dusty Baker would pull another early hook, like Greinke the day prior, dipping into his bullpen early to end Urquidy's day at just 76 pitches in the fifth. His final line: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 76 P.

Brooks Raley was who Baker called on to face the top of the Twins' lineup. He would walk his first batter, putting runners on first and second, get a strikeout for the second out, then allow an RBI-double to Nelson Cruz that almost scored a second, go-ahead run. Instead, the runner was out at home thanks to a terrific defensive play by Carlos Correa, bulleting the ball to Maldonado at home, who made a great tag to save the run and keep it tied 1-1.

Correa homers, Astros advance to ALDS

After Raley completed the fifth inning for Urquidy, Cristian Javier was the next reliever out to begin the bottom of the sixth. He would toss a 1-2-3 frame, sending the tie game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a long, loud two-out solo home run to center-field, putting the Astros back in front 2-1.

Javier held on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh by working around a leadoff walk, then returned for the eighth. He would get through it scoreless, despite allowing a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, who would be pinch-ran for by the speedy Byron Buxton. After a strikeout for out number two, Javier would catch Buxton between first and second base in a rundown, getting the big final out of the inning.

Houston added insurance in the top of the ninth, getting two on base before an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, his second of the day to make it 3-1. That left things up to closer Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance of the postseason. He would notch the save, advancing the Astros to the ALDS for their fourth-straight year.

Up Next: The Astros will now have a few days off to travel to the west coast before starting their ALDS with the winner of the A's / White Sox ALWC series. Game 1 of their ALDS will be on Monday, October 5th, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with start time TBD.

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