HOUSTON (AP)What a difference a week makes.
The Baltimore Orioles rebounded from a sweep by the Houston Astros at home last week by completing a three-game sweep of the AL West-leaders with a 5-2 win on Wednesday night.
Austin Hays homered and Ryan Mountcastle drove in two runs to help the Orioles to the victory.
”We’re continuing to improve,” manager Brandon Hyde said. ”It was a great series. I just hope we continue to play competitive baseball and I was happy with the effort our guys gave this series.”
It’s the first time the Orioles have swept the Astros since June 17-19, 2008 in Baltimore and their first-ever sweep at Minute Maid Park.
”We’re feeling good as a team these last three games,” starter Matt Harvey said.
The Astros outscored the Orioles 26-3 in the sweep last week as part of an 11-game winning streak. The tables turned in this series where the Astros were done in by shaky pitching and an inability to capitalize with runners in scoring position.
”I don’t think we played down to the competition,” manager Dusty Baker said. ”They hit us all over the park and they’ve got some high-velocity (relievers). We weren’t playing down to anything. Teams get up for us. No excuse, they just beat us.”
On Wednesday the Orioles jumped on rookie starter Luis Garcia (6-5) for four runs in the first inning. The tough start came after he entered the game having never given up more than three runs in a game in 20 MLB appearances.
The Astros scored two in the fourth to cut the lead to 4-2, but Hays hit his second homer of the series on a solo shot off rookie Ryan Hartman in the eighth to pad the lead.
The Astros have dropped five of six after their season-long 11-game winning streak. Houston leads the majors in runs, hits and batting average, but was just 5 for 26 with runners in scoring position in this series where the team was outscored 27-12.
”The offense, the guys are – you hate the word fatigued – but they’re fatigued,” Baker said. ”It seems like we’re just a hair off, a bit late.”
Harvey permitted four hits and two runs in 4 1/3 innings.
”I felt good,” Harvey said. ”I had everything working. I was able to just pound the zone, change speeds and really be able to attack.”
Tanner Scott (3-3) struck out four in 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the win and Cole Sulser got the last five outs for his third save.
”Matt Harvey was really good,” Hyde said. ”And our bullpen was just fantastic.”
Garcia allowed three hits, walked three and struck out five in four innings.
He walked Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini to open the game and Houston pitching coach Brent Strom was ejected during a visit to the mound. There was one out in the inning when Mountcastle doubled to left field to score them both.
DJ Stewart walked before an RBI single by Maikel Franco. Pedro Severino followed with a sacrifice fly to score Stewart and make it 4-0.
Garcia settled down after that and retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced before Brandon Bielak took over for the fifth inning.
Harvey didn’t allow a baserunner until a single by Michael Brantley with one out in the fourth inning. Yuli Gurriel followed with a single before a third single, this one by Yordan Alvarez, scored Brantley to cut the lead to 4-1.
There were two outs in the inning when Kyle Tucker drove in a run with a single on a grounder to left field.
The Astros had a chance to cut the lead in the fifth when they had runners at first and second with one out. But Scott replaced Harvey and retired Brantley and Gurriel to leave them emptyhanded.
Orioles: Franco sprained his ankle when he slipped trying to catch a foul ball on the last play of the game. … RHP Travis Lakins was placed on the injured list with right elbow pain on Wednesday after leaving Tuesday’s start in the second inning. Hyde said he would undergo more testing later this week but that he’s likely to be out for a while. … RHP Spenser Watkins had his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk to take his spot on the roster in his first stint on an MLB roster.
Astros: RHP Jose Urquidy was placed on the injured list with right shoulder discomfort after leaving Tuesday’s start in the second inning. … C Martin Maldonado was placed on the bereavement list on Wednesday and C Garrett Stubbs was recalled from Sugar Land to take his place.
Houston third base coach Gary Pettis is set to rejoin the team on Tuesday after being on leave since being diagnosed with multiple myeloma in Sept. 2020. Pettis has been at his home in California undergoing treatments since leaving the team but attended two of Houston’s games in the ALCS in San Diego last season and a game against the Angels in April.
Pettis has been the team’s third base coach since 2015.
Orioles: Baltimore is off on Thursday before continuing a 10-game road trip with the first of three games against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Astros: Left-hander Framber Valdez (4-1, 2.11 ERA) will start for Houston against J.C. Mejia (1-2, 4.94) in the opener of a four-game series at Cleveland on Thursday night.
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