Altuve's birthday HR answers boos, Astros top Torres, Yanks

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·4 min read
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NEW YORK — José Altuve responded to jeering fans by marking his 31st birthday with a go-ahead, three-run homer off Chad Green in the eighth inning, and the Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees 7-4 Thursday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Gleyber Torres made an incredible, daring dash for the Yankees, scoring from first base on an infield single, but New York's five-game winning streak ended.

Yordan Álvarez hit a pair of solo homers off Gerrit Cole, who turned a 3-2 lead over to Green (0-3) starting the eighth. After Torres pulled the Yankees within a run in the bottom half, Martín Maldonado hit a two-run homer off Justin Wilson in the ninth, ending a streak of of 75 plate appearances without an RBI.

Green started his own trouble by walking Kyle Tucker leading off. Pinch-hitter Aledmys Díaz reached on a single to third baseman Gio Urshela, and Tucker took third when Urshela threw past first for an error

Maldonado struck out to bring up Altuve, booed loudly throughout the series by fans getting to express their anger directly at the Astros since their cheating scandal en route to the 2017 World Series title was exposed. He had been 1 for 11 with no RBIs in the series when he turned on a shoulder-high 96 mph 3-2 pitch and drove it over the left-field scoreboard for a 5-3 lead.

Torres' sprint came soon after that.

With the Astros shifted to the right side, shortstop Carlos Correa knocked down Aaron Hicks' grounder near second but had no play as the ball trickled a few feet onto the outfield grass.

Correa recovered quickly, but Torres saw third uncovered and kept on going. Maldonado left his catcher's spot and ran to cover third, while reliever Ryan Pressly stayed on the mound.

Correa then made a short toss to third baseman Alex Bregman, who was near second, and Torres raced how ahead of Maldonado and slid headfirst across the plate without a throw.

Alex Scrubb (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh, and Pressly got six outs for his fifth save. Houston climbed back above .500 at 16-15.

Yankees fans held critical signs and booed the Astros throughout the series, anger lingering from the sign-stealing scandal that revealed Houston stole signs with a video camera en route to the title — which include a seven-game win over the Yankees in the AL Championship Series.

Giancarlo Stanton crushed a 117.3 mph solo home run off an ad hanging above the Yankees bullpen in right- centre in the third inning, and slumping Clint Frazier hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the fourth off Lance McCullers Jr. for a 3-1 lead.

After striking out 62 in his first six outings, Cole fanned just four in seven innings — his fewest since a rain-interrupted outing against Philadelphia last Aug. 3 in his Yankees home debut. He walked none for his fourth start in a row and he allowed five hits.

This was Cole's first time facing the Astros since leaving them after the 2019 World Series.

Álvarez’s second homer of the game landed in the netting above Monument Park in centre field and gave him six career multihomer games.

McCullers had pitched the final four innings of Houston’s Game 7 win over the Yankees in 2017, combining with Charlie Morton on a three-hitter and memorably throwing breaking balls on his final 24 pitches. Now 1 1/2 years removed from Tommy John surgery, McCullers gave up three run, six hits and four walks in six innings.

CORNER

Aaron Judge struck out his first two times up and matched his career worst of strikeouts in seven straight at-bats before grounding out twice.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Maldonado was back in the starting lineup, two days after he bruised his left trapezius (by neck and shoulders) during a home plate collision with Rougned Odor. “Probably the scariest play I’ve ever been involved in my big league career,” said Maldonado, who reported remaining a little stiff. ... RHP Jake Odorizzi (right pronator muscle strain) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Wednesday and likely will have another bullpen before a minor league rehab assignment.

Yankees: Urshela left in the eighth inning, shortly after making his diving stop and bad throw. He sent for an MRI on his knee. ... Odor was put on the 10-day IL with a left knee sprain on Wednesday, then examined by Yankees head team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad. “I don’t think it’s going to be a long thing,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. ... RHP Luis Severino is to throw to batters on Tuesday or Wednesday, his first time facing hitters since Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27 last year.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP José Urquidy (2-2) will be on the mound when the Astros start a homestand Friday against Toronto.

Yankees: RHP Jameson Taillon (1-2) starts a series opener against Washington and LHP Patrick Corbin (1-3) on Friday after beating Detroit last weekend for his first win in exactly two years.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Ronald Blum, The Associated Press

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