Brett Wallace turned in the first four-RBI performance of his career on Thursday afternoon and almost won it for the Astros by himself. Unfortunately, Wallace had three hits while the rest of the Astros contributed only two. Wallace's first hit of the day was an opposite field shot off the Rays' Chris Archer in the fourth inning. Then in the eighth inning, he launched a three-run home run to tie the game at five. Houston certainly had their chances to win this ballgame, but instead Tampa Bay leaves town with three of the four wins in the series.
Jordan Lyles, like Wallace, spent some time in AAA Oklahoma City this year before coming back to Houston and having success. Lyles continued his impressive first half with 6.2 innings of six-hit ball against the Rays. Tampa Bay got one run in the first, but Lyles got into a groove and rolled into the seventh inning having thrown only 81 pitches. But in the seventh, he allowed a walk and a double before having a pitch sail high and wide of catcher Jason Castro to bring in Tampa Bay's second run.
Jake Elmore's sac fly produced Houston's second run back in the fifth, and with a 2-2 game going into the eighth inning, Astros' manager Bo Porter went with setup man Jose Cisnero. Cisnero has been awesome this year, but not so much on Independence Day as he started the inning with the never-effective four-pitch walk before surrendering three runs in the inning. Cisnero entered the game with a 2.27 ERA and left with a 2.95.
The first run allowed by Cisnero came on a fielder's choice, where shortstop Ronny Cedeno questionably did not make a throw to try and complete a double play. The other two came on the also questionable Tal's Hill in center field as Brandon Barnes tried to track down a Yunel Escobar fly ball and fell down trying to maneuver the hill. Wally came to the rescue for Houston in the bottom half of the eighth, and the Astros put runners in scoring position during the ninth and tenth innings without scoring.
Astros closer Jose Veras fired a scoreless ninth inning, and was brought out for the tenth. He didn't last long though, as he was hit on the hand by a James Loney liner. It's unknown what Houston's future plans for Veras are, but it would be almost impossible to trade him if he is forced to miss a decent amount of time.
Escobar burned the Astros again in the eleventh with an RBI double off Josh Fields, and Wesley Wright only made it worse as he got wild with a pitch that Escobar scored on later in the inning.
Houston will travel to Arlington to take on the Texas Rangers for the weekend. Lucas Harrell will take on Nick Tepesch in the opener tomorrow night.