05/19 23:25 CDT Astros continue home dominance against Rangers with 5-1 win
Astros continue home dominance against Rangers with 5-1 win
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) --- Houston catcher Martn Maldonado entered Thursday's game
batting just .116.
But with the Astros clinging to a one-run lead and the bases loaded with two
outs in the eighth inning, manager Dusty Baker decided to stick with the
veteran instead of using a pinch hitter.
Baker's decision paid off when Maldonado hit a three-run double to give the
Astros some insurance in a 5-1 win over the Texas Rangers.
"Sometimes, in the right circumstance, you've got to give a confidence at-bat
to somebody," Baker said. "It was a left-hander and fortunate for us Martn
cleared the bases. You can't hit for him all the time or else he'll never get
Jose Altuve added a season-high four hits to back a strong start by Framber
Valdez and help the Astros continue their home dominance of the Rangers.
The victory extended Houston's winning streak at home against the Rangers to
11. Texas went 0-9 at Minute Maid Park last season and hasn't won in Houston
since Sept. 16, 2020.
The Astros, who lost two of the last three on the road, won their ninth
straight overall at home.
Valdez (3-2) allowed six hits and a run while tying a season high with seven
strikeouts in seven innings for his second straight win. The left-hander got
off to a shaky start with a leadoff walk and a balk in the first that helped
the Rangers take a 1-0 lead. He settled after that to hold them scoreless over
the next six innings and lower his ERA to 2.68.
"He was good," Baker said. "He was very good, and he dialed it up when he had
to. He was probably throwing harder in that seventh inning than he was any
other time in the game. He emptied the tank. He wanted that victory bad."
Altuve, who hit two doubles, scored in the first to tie it before an RBI single
by Kyle Tucker put Houston on top 2-1.
Josh Sborz walked three straight batters to load the bases with one out in the
eighth and was replaced by Matt Moore. Moore struck out Jos Siri before
Maldonado smacked his double to clear the bases and make it 5-1.
"Being able to help on the offensive side ... that was huge," Maldonado said.
Glenn Otto (1-2) pitched well after giving up the two runs early, but the
Rangers couldn't provide any run support after the first to keep the rookie
winless since April 22. He yielded seven hits and two runs in a career-high six
"They didn't hit him hard," Texas manager Chris Woodward said. "Early on they
hit a couple of balls hard, but after that he did a really, really nice job for
Eli White drew a leadoff walk before advancing to second on a groundout by
Marcus Semien. A balk by Valdez sent White to third and the Rangers took the
lead when White scored on a single by Corey Seager.
Altuve opened Houston's first with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch.
Otto plunked Alex Bregman before Altuve scored on a one-out single by Aledmys
Daz to tie it. Bregman was thrown out at third on the play and Daz moved to
Tucker put Houston up 2-1 when he lined a single to right field to score Daz.
The Astros had a shot to add to the lead in the second inning with Siri was on
second base with two outs. Altuve singled and Siri sprinted toward home, but
Charlie Culberson's throw beat him there to end the inning.
Rangers: C Mitch Garver was activated from the 10-day injured list before
Thursday's game. OF Nick Solak was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to make room
for him on the roster.
MAKE IT TWO
Both of the Houston Texans' first-round picks in this year's draft threw out
ceremonial first pitches before Thursday's game. Kenyon Green, an offensive
lineman taken 15th overall, went first and threw a strike. Not to be outdone,
defensive back Derek Stingley Jr., who was the third pick, followed with a
Houston's Cristian Javier (2-1, 3.20 ERA) opposes Martn Prez (2-2, 2.01) when
the series continues Friday night.
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