Here's why Dusty Baker, Astros are at critical crossroads before pivotal stretch run

DECISION TIME

Here's why Dusty Baker, Astros are at critical crossroads before pivotal stretch run
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As the Astros approach the final month of the season, they find themselves in a dog fight for the division crown with the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers.

One of the biggest concerns for the Astros has to be Cristian Javier's struggles over the last several months. Javier has been so bad, many are wondering if the club can even use him moving forward.

Be sure to watch the video above as we discuss how the Astros should handle Javier down the stretch and in the postseason if the Astros are able to get in.

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Listen to The Bench with John Granato and Lance Zierlein weekday mornings on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM.

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Giants defeat the Astros, 5-3. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

Austin Slater had three hits and drove in two runs to help the San Francisco Giants beat the Houston Astros 5-3 on Wednesday.

Slater also stole a base and scored for San Francisco, which took the rubber game of the three-game series in a speedy 2 hours, 7 minutes.

Yordan Álvarez homered for Houston, which has lost three of four overall.

The Giants jumped on Framber Valdez for five runs and eight hits in four innings. Valdez (5-4) threw 59 pitches in his shortest outing of the season, finishing with just one strikeout, his fewest in a game since July 26 when he had one against Texas.

San Francisco right-hander Logan Webb (6-5) permitted three runs and seven hits in six innings.

Ryan Walker, Tyler Rogers and Camilo Doval combined for three scoreless innings in relief. Doval struck out former Giants utility player Mauricio Dubón to end the game, earning his 12th save in 14 chances.

Wilmer Flores gave San Francisco an early lead with a sacrifice fly in the third. Matt Chapman followed with an RBI double.

Jeremy Peña drove in Houston’s first run on an infield single in the fourth.

Slater answered with a two-run single in the bottom of the inning, and Heliot Ramos added a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1.

Álvarez hit a two-run homer to center in the sixth, his 14th of the year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: OF Kyle Tucker (right shin contusion) has not begun baseball activities and is not expected to return Friday when he is eligible to come off the injured list. However, manager Joe Espada did not rule him out for the weekend. ... C Yainer Díaz missed his third straight game with a sore right index finger, though Espada said he was available off the bench and should be ready to start Friday.

Giants: LHP Blake Snell (left groin strain) threw off a mound for the first time since going on the IL on June 3. ... RHP Austin Warren (right elbow UCL surgery) pitched a scoreless inning with one strikeout in a rehab outing with Single-A San Jose on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Astros: Return home for a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers beginning Friday night. RHP Hunter Brown (2-5, 5.58 ERA) seeks his fifth straight quality start, while Detroit hadn’t announced a starter.

Giants: Host the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game series starting Friday night. Neither team had announced a starter.

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