Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gail Burton/AP/Shutterstock (13419365e) Houston Astros pitcher Christian Javier delivers against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of a baseball game, in Baltimore Astros Orioles Baseball, Baltimore, United States – 25 Sep 2022
In a much lower-scoring game than the night prior, through the scheduled nine innings, the Astros went to extras with Baltimore in Sunday’s finale. After trading runs in the tenth, Houston pulled away in the eleventh to grab the victory.
The 6-3 win gave the teams a series split of the four-game set and improved the Astros to 101-53 on the season as they move closer to securing the top seed in the AL.
Houston strikes first, Javier deals before rain delay
After both starting pitchers put up quick and scoreless innings in the first and second, the Astros struck first in the top of the third. Christian Vázquez led things off with a double before moving to third base on a single, then scored on a sac fly by Mauricio Dubón, putting Houston ahead 1-0.
Cristian Javier looked like that one run may be enough for him, cruising through the first four innings without allowing a hit while striking out seven. Baltimore would notch their first hit of the day with a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth, but Javier induced a quick double play to erase the runner as he continued to face the minimum.
Javier held on to the one-run lead through six innings, continuing to cruise with another 1-2-3 frame. Rain would enter the area, causing a delay and ending his terrific day early. His final line: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 76 P.
Baltimore gets on the board as things head to extras
After a scoreless top half of the inning when play resumed after the short rain delay, Houston turned to Will Smith out of the bullpen in the bottom of the seventh. He retired Baltimore in order, keeping it a one-run game.
With the game still locked at 1-0, Ryne Stanek was the next reliever out for the Astros but would allow a one-out double which set the stage for a two-out RBI single by Rougned Odor to tie things up. Stanek would give up another single before Dusty Baker would move on to Bryan Abreu, who would get the final out.
Baltimore’s bullpen kept the game tied after the top of the ninth, forcing the Astros to bring in Ryan Pressly to try and force extras. Pressly would issue a one-out walk but induced a double play to send things to the tenth inning.
Astros use big eleventh inning to split the series
Houston started the top of the tenth with Yuli Gurriel as their free runner on second base. He moved to third on a flyout, then scored with two outs on a wild pitch, putting the Astros ahead 2-1.
Hector Neris entered for the bottom of the inning but would allow Baltimore to knot things up again at 2-2 before getting out of the jam and moving the game to the eleventh. Houston loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the eleventh, which brought Yordan Alvarez to the plate.
Alvarez would come through with his 96th RBI of the year; a sacrifice fly to give the Astros another lead, 3-2. A hit batter later, Kyle Tucker also got to the plate with the bases loaded, working a walk to make it a two-run advantage. Vázquez doubled the lead with a two-out, two-run single.
Now 6-2, Rafael Montero took over on the mound in the bottom of the inning. He allowed a leadoff single to make it 6-3 but would close out the victory for Houston.
News and notes
Back at home Tuesday: Houston will have a day off on Monday before starting an eight-game homestand to finish the regular season. First up is a two-game series against the Diamondbacks. Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1, 2.38 ERA) is in line for the start for the Astros in the opener.
Getting it done on the road: With the win in their final road game of the 2022 regular season, the Astros finished 51-30 away from Minute Maid Park.
Peña returns: After suffering a facial abrasion in Saturday’s game during a slide into home, Houston’s shortstop cleared concussion protocol and returned to action by pinch-running and playing shortstop in the tenth inning in of Sunday’s game.