Two unearned runs and a three-run homer by Austin Meadows after a hit-by-pitch with two outs gave the Rays the margin they needed for the 5-4 win over the Astros in Tampa Bay.
The win averted a sweep at the hands of the Astros, who have Monday off before a three-game series against the Yankees in New York.
The Astros started the scoring in the fourth with a solo home run to center by Yordan Alvarez against starter Rich Hill, Alvarez’ third of the year.
The Astros increased their lead to 3-0 in the fifth when Kyle Tucker led off with a single and advanced to third on a Myles Straw double off the wall in center field. Tucker scored on a Jose Altuve sac fly, and Straw scored on a Michael Brantley single.
But the Rays tied the score on an Austin Meadows three-run homer with two outs behind a walk and a hit-by-pitch by starter Cristian Javier of Randy Arozarena. The homer by Meadows broke a string of 21.2 scoreless innings by the young phenom Javier.
The Astros managed to get the lead back in the sixth when Myles Straw singled home Yordan Alvarez, who doubled to open the inning.
Then the Astros bobbled the game away.
With one out Bryan Abreu surrendered a double to Kevin Kiermaier, who later advanced to third on a wild pitch. Willy Adames then hit a grounder to first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who threw home to put out Kiermaier trying to score. There was plenty of time, but Yuli threw high, and catcher Martin Maldonado allowed the ball to bounce off his glove, allowing Kiermaier to score. The error was charged to Maldonado, but Gurriel fed him a difficult ball to field cleanly.
Abreu managed to escape without further damage in characteristic fashion, getting a K, a hit-by-pitch, and another K.
The Rays put the game away in the seventh with the help of an Alex Bregman error and yet another Astros hit-by-pitch, this time by Brooks Raley.
With one out, following the hit-by-pitch, Yandy Diaz hit a grounder to Bregman, who bobbled the ball and then threw errantly to first, allowing Austin Meadow to take third. The play was scored a single and an error, but without the bobble, it’s possible Diaz would have been out at first. In any case, Manuel Margot then singled Meadows home, the run scored as unearned. Raley followed that with two strikeouts to keep the Astros within striking distance.
The Astros mounted a mini-threat in the ninth when pinch-hitter Jason Castro doubled with two outs. But Jose Altuve grounded out to end the game.
Since April 27th, Altuve is 2-26 and his OPS has dropped to .661.
The Astros have the day off before starting a tough series in New York against the Yankees and their wonderful fans.
Box score and videos HERE.