Framber Valdez tossed six hitless innings and Yordan Alvarez belted a home run in the seventh as the host Houston Astros defeated the reeling Texas Rangers 4-1 Saturday.
Valdez walked six batters for the second time in three starts yet pitched effectively enough to send Texas to its 11th consecutive loss. Alvarez provided insurance with his 18th homer, a solo shot off reliever Josh Sborz as the Astros improved to 8-0 at home against Texas this season.
The Rangers, no-hit by the Yankees’ Cory Kluber and the Padres’ Joe Musgrove earlier this season, broke up the Astros’ combined no-hit bid when Isiah Kiner-Falefa dropped a leadoff single into shallow right field off Houston reliever Ryne Stanek leading off the eighth.
Houston won for the fourth time in five games overall.
Ranger right-hander Kyle Gibson (6-3) issued four of his career-high eight walks in the first inning, including Carlos Correa with the bases loaded to force home Jose Altuve. Gibson threw 25 pitches in the first, only seven for strikes.
The Astros extended to a 3-0 lead in the third when Michael Brantley and Gurriel scored on back-to-back sacrifice flies from Alvarez and Correa, respectively.
Gibson benefitted from an accurate relay throw from second baseman Andy Ibanez in the fifth when Alvarez singled to center with two outs. Gurriel was erased at the plate trying to score from first following his two-out walk.
Gibson surrendered three runs (two earned) on four hits and recorded four strikeouts over six innings.
Valdez (6-2) worked around a pair of one-out walks in the top of the first by punching out Nathaniel Lowe and inducing an inning-ending grounder off the bat of Curtis Terry. He returned for the second with a one-run lead only to walk Ibanez and David Dahl to open that frame.
Valdez snuffed that threat by getting Charlie Culberson to roll into a double play and cruised from that point forward. He walked Ibanez with two outs in the fourth and Lowe with two outs in the sixth but managed to escape both frames unscathed. In between, he breezed through the fifth courtesy of the defensive handiwork of Correa at shortstop and Abraham Toro at third base.
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Ibanez slugged his second home run of the season with one out in the ninth off Astros closer Ryan Pressly.
–Field Level Media