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Yordan Alvarez’s blast helps Astros beat Athletics

May 20, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker (30) hits an RBI single 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 cracked a tiebreaking home run leading off the eighth inning and the Houston Astros claimed their series against the Oakland Athletics with a 3-2 victory on Saturday.

Alvarez smacked his 10th homer of the season by driving a 3-1 slider from Oakland reliever Richard Lovelady (0-2) 392 feet into the right-field seats. Astros closer Ryan Pressly secured the victory, the sixth in a row by Houston, with his eighth save via a scoreless ninth inning.

Astros rookie right-hander Hunter Brown was exceptional, recording a career-high nine strikeouts. His four-seam fastball proved his most reliable weapon, with Brown recording seven of his 15 swings and misses with the heater. Brown allowed two runs on five hits and did not issue a walk over six innings, with Oakland Ryan Noda serving as the thorn in his side.

Noda roped a leadoff double to right in the fourth inning, the second hit allowed by Brown, and came home when Brent Rooker added a single to center that cut the deficit to 2-1. Two innings later, Noda added a sacrifice fly to center after Esteury Ruiz opened the sixth with a single before advancing to third with a steal and a throwing error by Astros catcher Martin Maldonado.

Ruiz nearly pulled the same gambit in the eighth with his one-out single off Hector Neris. He stole second base and advanced to third when Maldonado short-hopped his throw to shortstop Jeremy Pena. But Neris (3-1) replied with a strikeout of Noda before getting Rooker to fly out.

Athletics left-hander JP Sears recorded his most crucial out in the first inning.

Three batters into the bottom of the first the Astros held a 1-0 lead after Sears surrendered a leadoff double to Jose Altuve and a single to Alex Bregman that advanced Altuve to third base. Alvarez followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center field that plated Altuve and, two batters later, Kyle Tucker produced an RBI single that scored Bregman and doubled the Astros’ advantage.

Sears found additional trouble when he allowed two more two-out baserunners, loading the bases before carving up Houston designated hitter Corey Julks on three pitches, the last of which was a slider that Julks swung at and missed badly. With that strikeout, Sears limited the damage to two runs and then began a span of dominance that continued through the sixth.

Sears retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced, a stretch interrupted by a one-out double from Chas McCormick in the fourth inning. Sears concluded his outing having allowed two runs on five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. It marked his third quality start of the season.

–Field Level Media