Houston is 1-5 over their last six

Valdez returns, Astros fall apart in extras to Padres

Framber Valdez made his long-awaited 2021 debut Friday night. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

After splitting a high-profile two-game series with the Dodgers earlier in the week, the Astros welcomed in another daunting opponent on Friday night for a three-game weekend series, the San Diego Padres. After a tight game in regular innings, the Padres would take advantage of another rough outing by Houston's bullpen, handing the Astros the loss in extras.

Final Score (11 innings): Padres 10, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 27-23, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Mark Melancon (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-3)

Valdez makes his 2021 debut

After starting the season on the IL with a fractured finger suffered in a Spring Training game, Framber Valdez made his long-awaited 2021 debut at Minute Maid Park Friday night. He would not be expected to go deep into the game, being on a pitch count; instead, trying to build momentum for the season by getting a successful outing to build upon for the future.

He probably reached his pitch limit quicker than he would have liked but could hold a potent Padres lineup to just one run over four innings. That run came on a solo homer in the top of the third, giving San Diego a 1-0 lead at the time. Valdez went on to finish that inning along with one more, keeping his team within reach. His final line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 72 P.

McCormick pushes Houston in front, Tatis Jr. ties it late

After getting in scoring position a couple of times but coming away empty against Dinelson Lamet in the first three innings, the Astros would get on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Carlos Correa reached base by legging out an infield single, setting up Chas McCormick's fourth home run and fifteenth RBI in his 46th at-bat, giving Houston a 2-1 lead.

With Valdez's night done after four, Cristian Javier would come in to make his first appearance as a reliever this season in the top of the fifth. He erased a leadoff walk for a scoreless frame, then followed that with a 1-2-3 sixth. After another leadoff walk was stranded in the top of the seventh, the Houston offense threatened to extend the lead in the bottom half.

They put two on base with a walk and a single, and with two outs, the Padres intentionally walked Carlos Correa to face McCormick, who was responsible for the only runs so far in the game. He drove one deep the opposite way to right field, missing a grand slam by mere feet. That proved to be a pivotal turn of events, as in the top of the eighth, with Javier still going, Fernando Tatis destroyed a ball to tie the game, 2-2.

Houston falls apart in extras, Padres take the opener

Ryan Pressly entered in the top of the ninth, keeping the game tied by sitting down the Padres in order, giving his offense a chance at the walk-off. They would not, entering another decisive extra-inning matchup. San Diego scored their free runner with a leadoff double in the top of the tenth against Ryne Stanek, who would load the bases before getting out of the inning down one run.
Alex Bregman started the bottom of the tenth on second base, moving to third on a groundout by Yuli Gurriel. Chas McCormick would bring him in, getting a sac fly to re-tie the game.

Houston would load the bases with two outs, bringing Jose Altuve to the plate, who would fly out to extend the game one more frame. Brooks Raley came on for the eleventh, but after allowing three-straight hits to make it a 5-3 San Diego lead with no outs, he was lifted in favor of Brandon Bielak, who would watch five more runs come in before getting a merciful end to the inning. Houston would not make the miraculous comeback in the bottom half, giving them their fifth loss in the last six games.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will get underway at 3:10 PM Central on Saturday. Jake Odorizzi (0-2, 10.13 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros looking to make a better impression on his new team than he did before he went down, while Yu Darvish (5-1, 1.75 ERA) will start for San Diego.

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Luis Garcia played his part in a pitcher's duel with Carlos Rodon on Friday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With an impressive offensive onslaught to overpower Chicago in game one of this series, the Astros entered this second of four games hoping to keep their momentum going. After an impressive pitcher's duel left the game tied late into the game, Houston would edge out the win with a big walk-off in the ninth.

Final Score: Astros 2, White Sox 1

Astros' Record: 41-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryan Pressly (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Garrett Crochet (2-3)

Garcia matches Rodon in a pitcher's duel

Both starting pitchers were very effective, save one inning, in their respective seven innings of work. For Luis Garcia, he had his struggles in the top of the first to start the game, allowing a one-out double and single to put runners on second and third, setting up an RBI single to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead.

He limited the damage to that one run, both in that inning and the rest of his night, as he would follow that with six straight scoreless frames. Once he found his groove in the fourth, he would retire 12 of 13 batters he faced over that span to get through seven one-run innings. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 96 P.

For Houston, it took until one out into the fifth inning to get a hit and their first baserunner against Carlos Rodon. That sparked an opportunity to grab a lead, as they would go on to load the bases still with one out but would get just one run out of it with a two-out RBI walk by Martin Maldonado to tie the game up 1-1.

Astros walk it off in the ninth

Ryne Stanek was first out of Houston's bullpen in the top of the eighth, erasing a one-out walk for a scoreless inning to keep things gridlocked. Still in a stalemate in the top of the ninth, the Astros opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly to try and keep it tied to set up a potential walk-off. He was perfect, striking out Chicago 1-2-3 to send it to the home half.

In the bottom of the ninth, Yuli Gurriel got the winning run on base by hitting a one-out single. That brought Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who got the walk-off hit, roping a ball into the right-field corner deep enough for Gurriel to hustle from first to home to win it for Houston, 2-1.

Up Next: Now having won five in a row, the Astros will try to lock up this series in game three of four on Saturday at 6:15 PM Central. Lance Lynn (7-2, 1.51 ERA) will try to get a win for the White Sox, while Framber Valdez (3-0, 1.42 ERA) will look to continue his 2021 success for Houston.

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