BRAVES TAKE GAME 1

Braves overpower Astros as Houston's bats go silent

Astros Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez
Braves beat the Astros, 6-1. Composite Getty Image.

Austin Riley had three hits, including an RBI single in a four-run ninth inning as the Atlanta Braves pulled away for a 6-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

Orlando Arcia and Marcell Ozuna also had RBI singles in the ninth to help break open a 2-1 game.

Adam Duvall drew a leadoff walk from Josh Hader and moved to second on a wild pitch before Arcia delivered a run-scoring single. Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies singled before Riley hit his RBI single. Hader exited after striking out Matt Olson.

Ozuna added another RBI single, and Michael Harris II drove in a run with a fielder’s choice to make it 6-1.

“That was huge against one of the toughest closers in this game,” Harris said. “It gives us a lot of confidence and shows we can go up against anybody. We have belief in our bats one through nine, so it gave us a lot of confidence against a tough guy like Hader.”

After allowing four runs, Hader has a 9.39 ERA in his first season with the Astros. He signed a $95 million, five-year contract in January.

“He’s getting after it,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “He’s just missing locations, but his stuff is pretty good. Just location, behind in the count, leadoff walk, but he’s been successful for a very long time. Stuff will click.”

Alex Bregman hit an RBI single for Houston in the first, but the Braves took the lead with two runs in the second. Travis d’Arnaud scored on an errant throw by shortstop Jeremy Peña, and Albies was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score Jarred Kelenic.

Atlanta rookie Darius Vines allowed one run and four hits with four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. It was his third major league start and first appearance this season.

“Anytime I can give this team a chance to win, that’s what we are trying to do,” Vines said.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Vines’ effort was “really good.”

“Once he was out there and kind of got his sweat going and got into a rhythm, he started pitching and mixing his pitches,” Snitker said.

Aaron Bummer (1-1) got two outs in relief for the win.

Spencer Arrighetti (0-2) gave up two runs and four hits with five strikeouts over four innings. Arrighetti improved from his major league debut against the Royals last Wednesday when he was tagged for seven runs in three innings.

“There’s a lot to look back and be proud of,” Arrighetti said. “I feel like I made some good adjustments in between starts this time around. … I made some big pitches tonight in some big situations that I’m really happy about.”

Jose Altuve had three hits for the third straight game for Houston, which fell to 6-12 this season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to throw a bullpen Tuesday and if all goes well he will make his season debut this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said.

UP NEXT

Atlanta RHP Reynaldo López (1-0, 0.75 ERA) starts Tuesday against Houston RHP Hunter Brown (0-2, 16.43), who gave up nine runs in less than an inning Thursday against the Royals.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome