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 McCullers deals, Tucker and Diaz rake as the Astros top the Rays 5-2

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chris O’Meara/AP/Shutterstock (13409862n) Houston Astros’ Kyle Tucker (30) watches his two-run home run off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brooks Raley during the eighth inning of a baseball game, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Catching for the Rays is Rene Pinto Astros Rays Baseball, St. Petersburg, United States – 21 Sep 2022

McCullers deals, Tucker and Diaz rake as the Astros top the Rays 5-2

The Astros dominance of the Rays continued with a 5-2 win Wednesday night. This is the first time the Astros have swept the Rays at Tropicana Field. Lance McCullers hurled seven innings of two-run ball, and the offense chipped in with a pair of home runs to close out the sweep.

The Astros got on the board early Wednesday night thanks to Aledmys Diaz’s RBI single scoring Jeremy Peña in the first inning to give the Astros an early 1-0 lead. The Astros scored a run in the first inning of every game in this Rays series.

Tampa Bay native Lance McCullers Jr. was on the mound tonight for the Astros and did a great job of limiting the Rays from striking back in the bottom of the first by forcing a groundout, two strikeouts, and only one walk. In the second inning, he got David Peralta to ground out, Manuel Margot to fly out, and only allowed an Issac Pardes walk. McCullers struck out Rene Pinto to end the inning. McCullers prevented the Rays from doing anything in the third, fourth, and fifth innings. The Astros tried to get on the board in the bottom of those innings, but Cory Kluber had their number and nothing got across home plate. Same story with the top of the sixth inning.

McCuller’s magic on the mound did take a hit in the bottom of the 6th when he let Wander Franco double to put him in scoring position, and then Randy Arozarenea advanced Franco to third off a single. David Peralta drove in Franco to tie the game at 1 . McCullers bounced back, forcing Manuel Margot to ground out to end the threat.

McCullers ran into some more trouble in the seventh when he let Issac Parades hit his 20th home run of the year off of him to take a 2-1 lead and then allowed Rene Pinto to double in the very next at-bat. McCullers bounced back, however, getting Jose Siri to ground out, struck out Johnathan Aranda and Harold Ramirez to end his outing. McCullers final line was two runs on six hits and eight strikeouts over seven innings.

The Astros bats finally came back to life in the bottom of the inning when Jeremy Pena doubled (19th) to put himself in scoring position and then was later brought in by Aledmys Diaz. Still, the Astros weren’t done yet as Kyle Tucker hit a deep shot to center field above the pool to give the Astros a 4-2 lead in the 8th. The home run gives Tucker 29 home runs on the year.

The Astros offense was still cooking even in the 9th inning when Martin Maldonado closed out the scoring with his 14th home run of the season to make it 5-2 Astros.

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