Verlander leads Astros over D-backs 1-0, and both teams clinch postseason spots

PHOENIX (AP) — The Houston Astros won. The Arizona Diamondbacks lost.

But everybody left Chase Field on Saturday night with a ticket to the postseason.

Justin Verlander threw five innings, José Abreu hit a run-scoring double and the Astros beat the Diamondbacks 1-0 as both teams clinched spots in the upcoming playoffs.

Houston gets a chance to defend its World Series title after fighting through a tight American League wild-card race for the past several weeks. The Astros still have plenty to play for Sunday — they could clinch the AL West and a first-round bye with a win on Sunday and a Texas loss.

The Diamondbacks return to the postseason for the first time since 2017, backing into the bracket with the Reds' 15-6 loss at St. Louis. Arizona's seeding could still change depending on Sunday's results, which also could determine whether the Marlins have to fly back to New York on Monday to finish a suspended game with the Mets.

The D-backs qualified for the playoffs just two years after a brutal 52-110 season.

The Astros won on Saturday after multiple clutch moments in the final innings.

Hector Neris got a pair of crucial outs in the seventh. He entered with the bases loaded and one out but struck out Ketel Marte on three pitches and coaxed a weak groundout from Tommy Pham. Shortstop Jeremy Peña made a slick defensive play in the eighth, turning a double play on a tough hop on a hard-hit ball by Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

The Astros got two more solid defensive plays in the ninth when catcher Martin Maldonado threw Jake McCarthy out on an attempted steal. Third baseman Alex Bregman got the second out after charging a slow roller and making a strong throw to first.

Bryan Abreu then walked Geraldo Perdomo and struck out Corbin Carroll. It was Bryan Abreu's fifth save of the season.

José Abreu brought home the game's lone run with a double off the center-field wall, making it 1-0 in the fourth. Abreu was also the offensive hero on Friday night after hitting a two-run double to nearly the same spot in 2-1 win.

Verlander (13-8) helped the Astros to World Series wins in 2017 and 2022 but signed as a free agent with the New York Mets during the offseason. After a disappointing few months, the Mets traded the three-time Cy Young Award winner back to the Astros at the trade deadline.

He provided another good outing Saturday, giving up two hits and three walks while striking out five.

Arizona's Merrill Kelly (12-8) went seven innings, giving up five hits and two walks while striking out five.


The 40-year-old Verlander tied Phil Niekro for 12th on the career strikeouts list, catching Carroll looking in the fifth.

Verlander and Niekro both have 3,342 strikeouts, though Verlander needed roughly 2,000 less innings to reach that mark.


Houston's Kyle Tucker is one homer from joining the 30-30 club this season after stealing his 30th base of the season in the fourth. He also has 29 homers and 111 RBIs.


Astros: RHP J.P. France was back at the ballpark one day after he was scratched from Friday's start because of a family emergency. France told reporters that he was available out of the bullpen.


The teams wrap up the regular season on Sunday.



David Brandt, The Associated Press