Apr 23, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Houston Astros pinch hitter Corey Julks (9) singles to drive in the go ahead run against the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Astros score five runs late to blast past Atlanta, 5-2, secure first sweep of the season
The Houston Astros scored all five of their runs in the eighth and ninth innings to overcome a 2-0 deficit and secure their first series sweep of the season against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.
With the 5-2 victory, Houston (12-10) has now won four straight games and will head to Tampa with plenty of positive momentum.
Álvarez delivers late-game heroics again, flood gates open in the ninth
For the third straight game, Houston’s Yordan Álvarez hurt the Atlanta Braves (14-8) with his clutch bat. Today’s big hit for the Cuban native came in the eighth inning of the series finale against the Braves.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Álvarez stepped to the plate against Atlanta left-handed reliever A. J. Minter. Álvarez took advantage of a cutter and hit a line drive single to right field, which allowed Jake Meyers and Mauricio Dubón to score and tie the game.
Houston took the lead in the ninth inning when Corey Julks came in to pinch-hit for Martín Maldonaldo. The Astros had base runners at first and second after Kyle Tucker singled and David Hensley walked.
Julks delivered the go-ahead single off a changeup from Minter. The University of Houston product sent the pitch to center field, which allowed Tucker to score from second. Atlanta replaced Minter with Danny Young after Julks’ hit.
Young loaded the bases by hitting Dubón with a pitch. Third baseman Alex Bregman added two more runs with a line drive single to left field, plating Hensley and Julks. Houston led 5-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning.
Javier pitches with command
Starting right-handed pitcher Cristian Javier put together an overall dominating performance but saw the Atlanta Braves take advantage of a few pitches that gave the Braves a 2-0 advantage.
The Dominican Republic native struck out 10 Atlanta players on Sunday, which included a stretch in the second through fourth innings that saw Javier strike out seven straight batters. He fell just one strikeout short of tying the franchise record first set by Jim Deshaies in 1986.
Atlanta’s designated hitter Eddie Rosario popped out to shortstop Jeremy Peña for the final out in the fourth inning, ending the strikeout streak.
Atlanta left fielder Kevin Pillar turned a four-seam fastball down the middle of the plate into a solo home run to left field in the fifth inning, which gave his team a 1-0 edge.
The Braves added another run in the sixth inning when third baseman Austin Riley put the ball in play in the infield.
Bregman tried to turn the groundball into a double play, throwing it to Mauricio Dubón at second for the first out. Dubón then sailed his throw to first base over the head of José Abreu, which allowed Ronald Acuña Jr. to score and give Atlanta a 2-0 lead.
Javier pitched six full innings against Atlanta giving up three hits, two runs, only one of which was earned, and striking out 10. Phil Maton, Hector Neris, and Bryan Abreu all pitched in relief for the Astros. They combined to pitch three innings of no-hit baseball.
Maton struck out two, and Abreu struck out one. Neris was credited with the win, and Abreu notched his second straight save.
News and Notes
• Dubón extended his hitting streak to 17 games with his single in the eighth inning.
• Javier’s 10 strikeouts against the Braves was a team-high for the Astros this season. It is the fourth double-digit strikeout game of Javier’s career.
• Bregman now has 500 career RBIs.
Michael Brantley is expected to be with the Sugar Land Space Cowboys for at least a week as he goes through his rehab assignment, Astros general manager Dana Brown told SportsTalk 790.
The Astros’ tough road trip continues with a three-game series at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays. Monday’s game one has its first pitch set for 5:40 p.m. CT. José Urquidy (1-1, 3.66 ERA) is expected to start for Houston. He will face off against Taj Bradley (2-0, 2.61 ERA).