Houston pulled ahead late

McCullers Jr. deals, Astros pull out the win over Angels

Lance McCullers Jr. and Shohei Ohtani provided an exciting pitching matchup Tuesday. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After watching the Angels come from behind to win the opener on Monday night, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Tuesday night to try and even the series to set up a chance to win it on Wednesday in the finale. After an enticing pitching matchup kept the game very close late into the game, Houston would pull ahead in the eighth inning to get the win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Angels 1

Astros' Record: 19-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1)

Losing Pitcher: Aaron Slegers (2-1)

McCullers Jr. and Ohtani both impress

As expected, the two starting pitchers on Tuesday night provided most of the excitement in the game's early goings. Shohei Ohtani allowed just two hits and no runs over the first four frames, with Lance McCullers Jr. doing slightly better by allowing just one hit over the same span. The first run of the night came off the bat of Kyle Tucker, who launched an opposite-field solo home run to the Crawford Boxes to put the Astros in front 1-0.

That proved to be a critical hit, as that would be the only run scored through seven innings as both Ohtani and McCullers Jr. settled in to keep it a 1-0 game. McCullers Jr. returned in the top of the eighth hunting a complete-game shutout but would see the game tied on a one-out solo home run by Taylor Ward, though he would finish the inning without any more damage. That would be it for him, posting an excellent final line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 96 P.

Houston puts it away in the eighth

Ohtani's night would end at seven innings, with the Angels moving to their bullpen in the bottom of the eighth. Houston would take advantage, getting runners on base to set up Michael Brantley for a go-ahead RBI single. With two runners still on, Yuli Gurriel would provide the exclamation point on the inning, adding some major insurance with a three-run homer to extend the new lead to 5-1. Ryan Pressly would take over in the top of the ninth, getting a 1-2-3 inning to finish off the win to even the series, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The third and final game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Wednesday. Jose Urquidy (3-2, 3.51 ERA) will take the hill for the Astros, while Andrew Heaney (1-2, 4.11 ERA) will start for Los Angeles.

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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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