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García, Maldonado lift Astros to first place! Houston beats Oakland 8-4 to win series

The Astros are atop the AL West for the first time since April 10!

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Astros needed to win this series, and they did. With another good performance by Luis García and a stellar Martín Maldonado, Houston defeated the Athletics with an 8-4 score to assault first place in the AL West. Now the team has won eight of its last nine games, a good stretch that allows the Astros to be at the top of the division for the first time since April 10.

García began the game allowing a lead-off home run to Mark Canha in the second pitch of the game, but then he put things together, attacking hitters and dominating.

The offense woke up early and pounded starter Cole Irvin to score three times in the third episode, thanks to a two-run double from Martín Maldonado’s bat and a Michael Brantley’s RBI single. Right after that, former Astro Tony Kemp began the bottom third with a line-drive home run to leave the score 3-2.

Then, after two outs in the fourth, Maldonado’s bat came alive again with a two-run shot to left field to make it 5-2. Before this game, the Astros’ catcher was 0-for-7 in the series, but he delivered this time to help the team win one of their biggest series in the season. Maldonado finished the game 2-for-4 with three driven in.

It was all served up for García to complete at least five innings, which he did in fashion. With two outs and men on the corners, the young righty struck out Seth Brown to get his second win of the campaign (2-3). Although he failed again to go deep, it was still a good job by the 24-year-old: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO.

With a 6-3 score, Dusty Baker brought in Ryne Stanek to pitch the eighth, and the veteran righty showed he’s not going through a nice path, as he struggled for his third game in a row. After giving up two walks and plunking Ramón Laureano, closer Ryan Pressly entered the game with bases loaded and two outs. He got Tony Kemp to hit a groundout and end the inning.

The Astros scored two more in the ninth with RBIs by Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel. With a non-save situation in the bottom ninth, Andre Scrubb closed things out for Houston’s 26th win of the season. On Friday (8:05 pm ET), the Astros will begin a three-game series at the Rangers, whom they swept in four games from May 13 to 16. Pitching prospect Tyler Ivey is slated to make his MLB debut.

THE STAT: José Altuve got two hits to extend his hitting streak to 14 games and tied the second-longest of his career. He still has five games to tie his personal best (19, back in 2017). The second baseman is 24-for-60 (.400) during the streak.