ANAHEIM, Calif. – Kyle Tucker hit his first career grand slam, Zack Greinke pitched two-hit ball over seven scoreless innings and the Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-1 Friday night.
Tucker accounted for all of Houston’s runs in the fourth inning when he drove the first pitch of the at-bat from Patrick Sandoval (3-6) into the stands in right-center field for his 22nd home run of the season. Ten of Tucker’s 35 career homers have come against the Angels.
“I saw a slider that was left over the plate and put a good swing on it. I hit it pretty well, saw the angle and thought it had a pretty good chance of going out,” Tucker said.
Greinke (11-3) is the third AL pitcher to reach at least 11 wins and has victories in all three of his starts against the Angels this year. The right-hander struck out seven and finished his outing by retiring his last 14 hitters.
“All my pitches were working and the locations were pretty good,” he said. “I was thinking before the game that I was likely to six but I was happy to go seven.”
Manager Dusty Baker said that even though Greinke was at 94 pitches, he didn't have any thoughts of letting him pitch the eighth.
“He did his job. With the bullpen we have now we don’t want to overextend him. If you tire him out now, then you have to go deep into the bullpen the next time,” Baker said.
Los Angeles scratched a run across in the eighth when Shohei Ohtani beat the shift for an RBI single. It was Ohtani's 85th RBI, which is tied for third in the majors.
Houston’s Ryan Pressley worked the ninth for his 19th save.
The Astros have won three straight and were able to extend their lead in the AL West to 3 1/2 games after Oakland's 8-6 loss at Texas, which snapped the Athletics seven-game winning streak.
While Baker is happy for the extra help along the way, he is trying to keep the focus on his own club instead of peeking at the standings.
“You don’t want to look behind but toward the finish line,” he said. “At the same time you just have to keep winning and keep going. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Sandoval allowed one hit through the first three innings before the Astros pounced in the fourth. Carlos Correa and Yordan Alvarez drew walks before Aledmys Díaz blooped a single into shallow center to load the bases.
Tucker then connected on Sandoval’s slider for the Astros’ sixth grand slam of the season, tied for fifth in the majors. Tucker's 18 RBIs with the bases loaded are tied for third in the majors.
The Angels — who have dropped four of their last six — have also allowed six grand slams, tied for fifth-most in the majors, including two in the last three games.
Sandoval went 4 2/3 innings and gave up five hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
“That was just one inning and they got us. I know that is how the game works,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Don’t forget about Greinke. I give him credit because he knows how to pitch and that’s what you saw tonight."
GRAVEMAN'S STREAK SNAPPED
Ohtani's RBI single, which drove in Brandon Marsh was the first earned run allowed by Kendall Graveman in six appearances with the Astros since he was acquired from the Seattle Mariners on July 27.
It also snapped a string of 17 straight games without allowing an earned run that began on June 22 with the Mariners.
Astros: 1B Yuli Gurriel (neck stiffness) was eligible to be activated off the 10-day injured list on Friday but is still considered day-to-day. Baker said it remains possible Gurriel could return to the lineup Saturday. ... RHP José Urquidy (right shoulder discomfort) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session in Florida on Saturday, but that could be pushed back due to weather.
Angels: C Max Stassi was in the lineup after missing Thursday's game. He left during the sixth inning Wednesday after being hit by a pitch in the left forearm. ... RHP Alex Cobb (right wrist inflammation) has not resumed throwing and is unlikely to return until late August.
Los Angeles RHP Jaime Barria (2-0, 4.21 ERA) has a 2.29 ERA and 12 strikeouts in three starts this season. He will face Houston RHP Luis Garcia (8-6, 3.29 ERA), who is 2-1 since the All-Star break.
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