George Springer hit a tiebreaking two-run home run in the fifth inning to back a gutsy start from Zack Greinke as the Houston Astros avoided a sweep with a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night at San Diego.
Jose Altuve also homered and drove in a pair for the Astros, who extended the best-of-seven series. Greinke (1-0) allowed two runs on five hits over six innings, walking one and striking out seven in his first postseason win in 11 starts dating back to 2015.
Game 5 will be played Thursday.
Randy Arozarena crushed a two-run homer to remain red hot for the Rays, whose four-game winning streak came to an end. Tampa Bay played without Kevin Kiermaier (wrist).
Springer pulled a 99 mph fastball down the left field line and high off the Western Metal Supply Co. building with one out in the fifth for a 4-2 Astros lead. Springer, who entered the night hitting .143 in the series, finished 3-for-4.
Now operating with a two-run edge, Greinke got into a jam in the sixth when Manuel Margot and Austin Meadows hit back-to-back singles with one out. Manager Dusty Baker had closer Ryan Pressly warming but opted to stay with his veteran right-hander to face Arozarena.
“Zack, this guy has been out there many times,” Baker said. “I usually don’t change my mind, but I didn’t have my mind really made up until I got out there and I saw the look in Zack’s eyes. (Catcher Martin Maldonado) was adamant that he could get this guy. I said, ‘OK, you got it then.’”
Arozarena struck out swinging for the second out. After Ji-Man Choi hit an infield single to load the bases, Greinke went full count on Mike Brosseau before getting the punchout on a changeup to escape the inning.Slideshow ( 158 images )
Rookie Cristian Javier held Tampa Bay scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings before walking Choi to begin the ninth. Pressly allowed the run to score on a Willy Adames two-out double but got Yoshi Tsutsugo to line out with a runner on third base to nail down his third save of the postseason.
“We put a lot of pressure on them there at the end,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Yoshi had a good at-bat -- got a pitch, looked like he might have caught it off the end just a little bit.”
Altuve put the Astros up 1-0 in the first inning when he homered for the fifth time in his past six games. He doubled home a run in the third for a 2-0 edge, leading the way with his bat after making headlines with his poor defense the prior two games.
“I didn’t have a choice. It was win today or go home, and I didn’t want to go home,” Altuve said. “I turned the page pretty quick and showed up today ready to help my team.”
Arozarena knotted the score with a blast to left in the fourth, the rookie’s fifth homer this postseason.
Tyler Glasnow (2-1) started for Tampa Bay and allowed four runs on eight hits over six innings, striking out five and walking two. The Rays had won his past 11 starts dating back to the regular season.
“I think I went out there with one pitch,” Glasnow said. “They’re a really good fastball-hitting team, so when you go out there and have one pitch, it just makes my job a whole lot harder.”
--Field Level Media