Astros fall back below .500

McCullers Jr. impressive in return, but Rangers blank Astros in pitcher's duel

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

After taking the opener thanks to timely hits and a great outing from their starter, the Astros resumed play on Wednesday with the Rangers trying to lock up the series win. Here is a quick rundown of the middle game of the three-game series:

Final Score: Rangers 1, Astros 0.

Record: 24-25, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Kyle Gibson (2-5, 5.18 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Ryan Pressly (1-3, 4.00 ERA).

An unexpected pitcher's duel

Wednesday's game would unfold as an unexpected pitcher's duel. For the Astros, Lance McCullers Jr. made an excellent return from the IL, going seven full shutout innings while allowing just two hits. Those two hits were the Rangers' only baserunners over those seven innings. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 86 P.

Pressly allows the winning run as Gibson tosses the complete-game shutout

After McCullers Jr, Josh James entered and worked around a two-out single for a scoreless eighth. Ryan Pressly was on for the ninth, trying to keep the game scoreless to provide Houston with a walk-off chance. Instead, a leadoff single would later result in the first run of the game on a two-out double just inside the foul line down the first-base side to give Texas a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth.

Pressly walked his next batter, prompting another call to the bullpen to bring in Enoli Paredes. Paredes would get the final out of the frame with a strikeout. The run allowed by Pressly would be the only of the game, as the Astros would come up empty in the bottom half, dropping the middle game of the series as Kyle Gibson would toss a complete-game shutout against the Astros to get the win.

Up Next: The series finale between these two teams will start a bit earlier on Thursday, with first pitch scheduled for 6:10 PM Central. Framber Valdez (3-3, 4.08 ERA) will make another start for the Astros, while Jordan Lyles (1-4, 7.80 ERA) will be on the mound for the Rangers.

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Houston's offense had another strong day at the plate in Seattle against the Mariners on Wednesday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After striking a deal with the Mariners before Tuesday's game, along with a reported deal with the Marlins on Wednesday before the finale, the Astros continued to try and bolster their bullpen with fresh arms while also focusing on this series against Seattle. Having won the night prior to even it up, it came down to the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon to decide the series.

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 4

Astros' Record: 63-40, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-5)

Losing Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (6-6)

Astros continue to score runs in Seattle

Just like in the earlier games in this series, the Astros had no problems offensively. They strung together four consecutive one-run innings, starting in the top of the second when they loaded the bases, then got an RBI groundout by Myles Straw to go up 1-0. In the top of the third, Yuli Gurriel drove one in on a two-out RBI double, bringing in Jose Altuve, who led the inning off with a double of his own. Chas McCormick led off with a single in the fourth, then later scored on an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz.

The fourth run in as many innings came in the top of the fifth, as Gurriel would notch his second RBI with a solo homer to start that inning, pushing the lead to 4-0. They didn't stop there, and neither did Gurriel, as he would get RBI number three on the day as part of a four-run top of the sixth, with RBI hits him, Altuve, Diaz, and Carlos Correa, doubling the lead to 8-0.

Odorizzi gets to the sixth before allowing two homers

The run support gave Jake Odorizzi plenty of leeway, which he didn't need until the bottom of the sixth. He held Seattle scoreless over the first five frames, allowing just four baserunners on a hit by pitch, a walk, and two singles, all peppered over that span and erased in each inning. Kyle Seager would get the Mariners on the board in the bottom of the sixth, blasting a one-out solo homer to cut the lead to seven runs at 8-1. After a single in the next at-bat, recently traded Abraham Toro made it four games in a row with a homer, this one a two-run shot to cut the lead to 8-3 and end Odorizzi's day. His final line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 95 P.

Houston wins the series

Houston brought in Brooks Raley to finish the sixth, issuing two walks but stranding them to keep it a five-run lead. Myles Straw helped push that back to six in the top of the seventh, reaching on a single to start the innings, then stealing both second and third to get in position for Diaz's third RBI of the day, a groundout to make it 9-3. Cristian Javier was the next reliever out for the Astros, but he would not make it through the bottom of the seventh, allowing a single and three walks, the third with the bases loaded to bring in a run.

Bryan Abreu was brought in to get out of the jam, getting a strikeout to end the seventh. Then, in the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker would put two more runs on the board with a two-run homer making the lead seven runs at 11-4. Abreu remained in for the bottom of the eighth, erasing two one-out singles to get through the frame. Brandon Bielak took over in the bottom of the ninth to close things out, posting a 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the win and give Houston the series victory.

Up Next: Houston will travel down the coast to San Fransisco before getting a day off on Thursday. They'll pick up an exciting three-game series with the Giants on Friday, with the opener slated to start at 8:45 PM Central. Framber Valdez (6-2, 2.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, while San Fransisco's starter is TBD.

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