Apr 22, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez (59) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
For the first time this season, the Houston Astros have won three straight games.
Houston (11-10) saw its offense come alive in the sixth inning with a couple of two-run home runs, and it also added a run in both the eighth and ninth innings to defeat the Atlanta Braves 6-3 on Saturday evening.
Yordan strikes again, Astros’ offense ignites
Yordan Álvarez has been a thorn in the side of the Braves through the first two games of the series. After hitting a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning to lift the Astros past the Braves on Friday, Álvarez had an encore performance on Saturday.
The Cuba-native hit his go-ahead homer in the sixth inning on Saturday. With Houston trailing 1-0, third baseman Alex Bregman reached first base with a ground-ball single into the outfield.
Álvarez followed Bregman in the order and launched Atlanta starter Kyle Wright’s pitch 414 feet to right field. Álvarez’s long ball gave the Astros a 2-1 lead.
Houston was not finished doing damage in the sixth inning. First baseman José Abreu reached first base courtesy of a fielding error by shortstop Vaughn Grissom, and Kyle Tucker followed with his own two-run blast off of Wright.
Tucker launched Wright’s curveball 410 feet to center field and gave Houston a 4-1 lead. Wright was replaced by right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin, who wiggled the Braves out of the inning without allowing more damage.
Atlanta answered Houston’s pair of two-run home runs with a two-run blast of its own in the bottom of the sixth by Ozzie Albies to make it 4-3.
The Astros picked up an insurance run in the eighth inning and another in the ninth.
With two outs in the eighth inning, Houston shortstop Jeremy Peña reached first base with a bunt and then stole second base. Left fielder Corey Julks brought Peña home to make it 5-3 with an RBI single on a line drive to left field off of right-handed reliever Kirby Yates.
Abreu drove in the other insurance run for the Astros in the ninth. He singled on a line drive to right field, allowing Mauricio Dubón to score and extend Houston’s lead to 6-3.
Valdez puts together solid start, bullpen closes door
Houston starting pitcher Framber Valdez pitched seven full innings and gave up only three earned runs while striking out nine Braves.
All three earned runs allowed by Valdez came via Atlanta long balls. Catcher Sean Murphy hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to put the Braves ahead 1-0. Second baseman Ozzie Albies hit a two-run blast in the sixth inning to shorten Houston’s three-run lead to just 4-3.
Right-handed reliever Rafael Montero pitched the eighth inning and struck out one batter. Right-hander Bryan Abreu pitched in the ninth and struck out two, notching the save for Houston.
News and Notes
• Dubón extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the ninth inning.
• Peña has six stolen bases for the season.
• The Astros can get their first series sweep of the season with a win against Atlanta on Sunday.
Jacob Melton is day-to-day with lower back discomfort. He was taken by the Astros as the No. 64 overall pick in the 2022 Draft out of Oregon State.
The Astros face off against the Atlanta Braves in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. The first pitch is set for 12:35 p.m. CT. Cristian Javier (2-0, 3.68 ERA) is slated to start for Houston while Max Fried (1-0, 1.08 ERA) is expected to be on the mound for the Braves.