Houston is still seeking home-field for the ALDS

Astros drop opener of final regular-season series to Oakland

Framber Valdez allowed four runs including two homers in his final regular-season start on Friday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With the division in hand, the Astros had another magic number to go after in the final regular-season series, and that was one win or a White Sox loss to ensure they'd have home-field advantage in the ALDS. Neither would come on Friday night, as Oakland would put together big innings to take the opener of the three-game series.

Final Score: A's 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 93-67, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Sean Manaea (11-10)

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-6)

Oakland tags Valdez with four runs

After a 1-2-3 first by Framber Valdez, Houston got on the board first in the bottom of the inning. A leadoff triple by Jose Siri set up an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz, making a 1-0 game. The one-run lead held until the top of the third, when a leadoff walk by Tony Kemp later turned into an RBI single, making it 1-1. Things got worse from there for Valdez, who allowed a go-ahead leadoff homer in the top of the fourth, then a two-run shot in the top of the sixth to end his night. His final regular-season line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 82 P.

Runs keep coming for the A's

Phil Maton was Houston's first reliever, retiring the three batters he faced after coming in for Valdez to finish the sixth. The Astros got one run back in the bottom of the inning, with a two-out walk setting up an RBI double by Jake Meyers to make it a two-run game.

Cristian Javier was next out of the bullpen, and he worked around a single for a scoreless seventh. Oakland figured him out in the eighth, though, putting up a four-run inning to push the lead back to six runs on a couple of errors and an RBI single and RBI ground-rule double.

Astros drop the opener

Jake Meyers notched his second RBI of the night in the bottom of the eighth, driving in Carlos Correa, who led the frame off with a single, making it 8-3. Jason Castros brought the Astros back to within two runs in the next at-bat, getting a three-run homer to cut the lead to 8-6. Yimi Garcia held the score there with a scoreless top of the ninth, sitting down Oakland in order, including two strikeouts.

Houston started a rally attempt in the bottom of the ninth, getting two on base to bring the winning run to the plate, but would come away empty as Oakland would take the opener. The White Sox winning earlier in the evening leaves the Astros magic number at 1 to clinch home-field in the ALDS.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will get started at 6:10 PM Central on Saturday. Paul Blackburn (1-3, 4.71 ERA) will be on the mound for Oakland, while Houston will hand the ball to Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.14 ERA).

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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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