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Yordan Alvarez (3 HRs), Justin Verlander help Astros clinch playoff bid

Sep 16, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Yordan Alvarez recorded his second career three-homer game and Justin Verlander threw five hitless innings in his return from the injured list as the Houston Astros clinched a postseason berth by defeating the visiting Oakland Athletics 5-0 on Friday.

Alvarez produced the 15th three-homer game in club history. He joins Jeff Bagwell (three times) and Glenn Davis (twice) as the only players to accomplish the feat at least two times for Houston.

The left fielder tagged Oakland rookie right-hander Adrian Martinez (4-5) for solo homers in the first, third and fifth innings. He upped his season total to 36 homers to become the first Houston player with three home runs in a game since George Springer did so against the Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 22, 2019.

Alvarez had his first three-homer game on Aug. 10, 2019, at Baltimore.

All three Alvarez homers cleared the wall in straightaway center field with distances of 434, 431 and 464 feet. His third homer followed a solo shot down the left field line from rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena, his 18th of the season giving Houston (95-50) a 3-0 lead.

Martinez allowed four runs on four hits and issued three walks while recording six strikeouts over five innings.

Alvarez added a single in the seventh inning to finish 4-for-4.

Verlander (17-3), making his first start since sustaining a calf injury against the Orioles on Aug. 28, was sharp from the onset. He fanned three consecutive batters bridging the first and second innings, and after hitting Ramon Laureano with a pitch with one out in the second, retired seven consecutive batters before issuing a two-out walk to Seth Brown in the fourth.

Verlander responded to his second baserunner by striking out three of the final four batters he faced. The 39-year-old right-hander threw 79 pitches, 51 for strikes, while posting nine strikeouts and one walk.

Martin Maldonado added an RBI single in the sixth that scored Yuli Gurriel with two outs.

Houston extended its winning streak to six games while Oakland (52-93) fell to 3-11 this month.

–Field Level Media