Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker enjoyed his 72nd birthday in grand style on Tuesday, thanks in large part to his All-Star middle infield tandem of Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve.
After Correa belted a game-tying, opposite-field home run with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning, Altuvecranked a walk-off grand slam to lift the Astros to a 6-3 win in 10 innings over the Texas Rangers. Houston has won 11 of 15 games, with the latest proving quite a gift.
"The first thing Altuve said to me was 'Happy birthday, skip,'" Baker said. "And that certainly was a happy birthday."
Said Altuve: "I know he wants to win on his birthday, so I'm happy that I did something to make that happen."
Right-hander Zack Greinke (6-2, 3.68 ERA) will start for Houston Wednesday.
It will mark the major-league-leading 15th start of the season for Greinke, who posted his shortest outing in his previous start last Thursday, lasting three innings while allowing four runs on seven hits and one walk in the Astros' 12-8 road loss to the Boston Red Sox.
Greinke had allowed one run in three of his previous four starts and posted a 3-1 record with a 2.03 ERA in that stretch. He limited the Rangers to three runs on seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts over seven innings in a 10-4 victory on May 14. He is 5-6 with a 3.04 ERA in 19 career games against Texas.
Right-hander Jordan Lyles (2-4, 5.37 ERA) will start the series finale for the Rangers on Wednesday.
Lyles is 1-2 with a 3.92 ERA over his last seven starts and has logged at least five innings in each appearance. He will work on extended rest after not factoring into the decision against the San Francisco Giants after allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts over six innings on June 8.
Lyles, who pitched for Houston from 2011-13, is 1-1 with a 3.99 ERA over six career appearances (four starts) against the Astros. In his previous start against Houston this season, Lyles allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings while not factoring into the decision in Texas' 8-4 home victory on May 22.
With veteran closer Ian Kennedy on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain, the Rangers were forced to piecemeal their way through the latter innings against the Astros. Spencer Patton and Brett Martin excelled in relief of starter Kyle Gibson, combining for four strikeouts over two innings before Josh Sborz recorded two quick outs in the ninth inning.
But things quickly went sideways from there, with Sborz allowing a game-tying home run to Correa while in pursuit of just his second career save. Rookie right-hander Demarcus Evans followed by issuing a pair of walks in the 10th to Myles Straw and Jason Castro, both of whom were attempting to bunt, before Altuve delivered the walk-off grand slam that capped the rally.
Home plate umpire Jerry Meals appeared to have missed a strike to Castro on a 3-2 count, a pitch that might have changed the complexion of the inning, if not the game. That yielded sore feelings.
"We played a good game, we pitched a good game," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "It is frustrating on a big pitch like that changes the whole game. It's a strike. The ball was in the strike zone and the ball has to be called a strike. But D-train (Evans) knows he's got to be better before that."
--Field Level Media