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Late-inning relievers get it done; Astros win second in a row in Cleveland

Stanek, Taylor, and Pressly threw three scoreless innings to end the night. The Astros hold tight to first place!

Houston Astros v Cleveland Indians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

It’s been kind of difficult for the Astros’ bullpen to be on the positive headlines this year, but this time it is. On Friday night, the Astros enjoyed a combination of hitting, a pretty decent showing from Lance McCullers Jr., and a good bullpen performance to take down the Indians on a 6-3 score.

The offense did its thing early in the game and scored all of the team’s six runs in the first third of the contest. Chas McCormick was the key man with his bat, as he drove in the first run of the club with an RBI double in the top second, right before Taylor Jones followed with another run-producing double to make it 2-0.

In the third, Carlos Correa added one run to the lead, the same as Abraham Toro reaching on a fielder’s choice, McCormick hitting a sac fly, and Jason Castro getting a one-run single to bring home the Astros’ final run of the game.

Now it was McCullers’ turn. The young righty finished his night after 5 1/3 episodes and surrendered six hits plus two earned runs. Up in the score with a comfortable lead, he pitched five scoreless innings before struggling in the sixth, where he allowed his two earned runs (part of a three-run home run allowed by Brooks Raley). He gave up four walks (tied season-high) and struck out eight Indians.

McCullers, who hasn’t lost since April 14, has won his three latest starts and lowered his ERA to 2.97. The Florida native is on a pretty good run in his last 10 outings: 5-0, 2.44 ERA, 65 SO, 59 IP since April 25.

Then, Raley relieved McCullers in the sixth to end the Indians’ threat, though he allowed the aforementioned three-run shot to César Hernández. But after that, Ryne Stanek, Blake Taylor, and Ryan Pressly hung up three zeroes to end it.

Stanek began July with a scoreless seventh of one hit, one walk, and two strikeouts. Taylor got in trouble with three hits in the eighth but struck out Harold Ramírez to leave the bases loaded. And Pressly didn’t sweat to get his 13th save of the campaign and complete his 11th consecutive appearance without an earned run, a span in which he’s registered 19 punchouts.

On Saturday (7:15 pm ET), the Astros will try to secure the series against the Indians. Jake Odorizzi, who hasn’t allowed a run in his three most recent starts (14 innings), will get the ball and face righty Eli Morgan.