Houston falls to beatable Arizona

Astros fall to D-backs in second-straight extra-inning game to even series

Houston's inexplicable struggles against struggling teams continued on Saturday night. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
After needing extra innings to beat the struggling Diamondbacks, the Astros hoped to rebound with a much more convincing win over Arizona on Saturday to secure the series win. Instead, Arizona would get the best of Houston in extras, tying the three-game set at one game apiece

Final Score (10 innings):
Diamondbacks 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 87-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: J.B. Wendelken (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (3-9)

Houston strikes first, Arizona responds against McCullers Jr.

After a quick top of the first by their starter, Lance McCullers Jr., the Astros jumped out to an early lead off the bat of Yordan Alvarez, who capitalized on a one-out walk by crushing a 453-foot two-run homer to straightaway center, putting Houston ahead 2-0. McCullers dealt with some traffic in the second, allowing a one-out double and two-out walk, but erased both to maintain the lead.

After a 1-2-3 third, things unraveled for him in the fourth, allowing a leadoff double that would result in a run on an error, then gave up the lead with an RBI double and RBI single in back-to-back at-bats to give Arizona a 3-2 advantage. He finished that frame, erased a leadoff double in the fifth, and then made it through the sixth with some defensive help. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 111 P.

Game stays tied as the teams go to extras for second straight night

Houston got McCullers Jr. off the hook in the bottom of the sixth, getting a single and double to start the frame to set up a sac fly by Carlos Correa, making it 3-3. Phil Maton was Houston's first reliever in the top of the seventh, and he would face three batters, getting two outs and allowing a walk before Brooks Raley came in to finish the inning.

Despite back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the seventh for Houston, they would come away empty-handed as the game remained gridlocked. Ryne Stanek was next out of the bullpen, and he sat down Arizona 1-2-3 before Houston suffered the same fate in the bottom half. For the second night in a row, Houston's closer came in to try and keep things tied in the top of the ninth. Ryan Pressly did it again, but so did Arizona in the bottom of the ninth, making it back-to-back nights with extra innings.

Astros fall in extras as Arizona evens the series

Yimi Garcia had the top of the tenth for Houston, but after allowing the free runner to score on a one-out single, he would give up a two-run homer to make it a 6-3 lead for Arizona before finishing the inning. Houston made it a two-run game with a pinch-hit RBI single by Jason Castro in the bottom of the inning but would not come any closer as the Diamondbacks would even the series.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game series will be a normal 1:10 PM Central start on Sunday. It'll be the battle of the Zac(k)s, as Zac Gallen (2-10, 4.44 ERA) will be on the mound for Arizona and Zack Greinke (11-6, 3.94 ERA) will pitch for the Houston.

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The Houston Astros managed to win the AL West once again, and while things got a little nerve wracking toward the end of the season, when it mattered most, the 'Stros took care of business.

It certainly didn't hurt to get a little help from the Mariners, beating the Rangers 1-0 on Sunday, paving the way for the Astros to secure the division. Rangers fans and members of their broadcast team were none too pleased with the Diamondbacks resting some of their starters on Sunday.

But let's be real, with the division on the line, the Rangers couldn't even manage to score a single run on Sunday against Seattle. That's why they're playing in the Wild Card series, not because of how Arizona approached Sunday's game.

So what did we learn during these must-win games over the last week? A lot was made of GM Dana Brown's comments on the team's flagship station. Brown was hoping manager Dusty Baker would put the best offensive lineup on the field. Yainer Diaz did not start a single game of the Diamondbacks series. But Chas McCormick played every game of the Mariners and Diamondbacks series, except for the finale against Seattle, after being hit in the back with a fastball the night before.

Michael Brantley played in two of three against Arizona, so he appears to be an option Dusty will turn to moving forward. And with the Astros only scoring 1 and 2 runs in two of the three wins against the D-Backs, the Astros need every bit of offense they can get.

Plus, we discuss how getting extra rest for Michael Brantley, Jose Abreu, and the bullpen could pay huge dividends for the club. And don't look now, but Jose Abreu is getting hot at just the right time!

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion.

And be sure to watch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportMapHouston's YouTube channel.

Listen to ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM for Houston's best sports talk.

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