HOUSTON (AP) — Houston manager Dusty Baker capped his 72nd birthday in grand fashion, thanks to a slam by Jose Altuve in the 10th inning on Tuesday night.
“That was a wonderful birthday present,” Baker said.
Altuve belted a grand slam and the Houston Astros, saved by Carlos Correa’s tying homer in the ninth, beat the Texas Rangers 6-3.
After Texas drove in the automatic runner in the top of the 10th for a 3-2 lead, Rangers rookie reliever Demarcus Evans (0-2) walked Myles Straw and pinch-hitter Jason Castro to load the bases with no outs in the bottom half.
Altuve then launched his soaring shot into left field to put the Astros on top and start the party.
Altuve was doused with water at home plate before sharing a hug with Baker, who noted that he’s had terrible luck in games on his birthday in the past.
“The first thing Altuve said to me was: ‘Happy birthday, Skip,'” Baker said. “And that certainly was a happy birthday.”
Added Altuve: “I know he wants to win on his birthday, so I’m happy that I did something to make that happen.”
It was the first walk-off grand slam in the majors this season. The Astros hadn’t had a last at-bat grand slam since Aug. 16, 2011, when Brian Bogusevic, who was at the park Tuesday as a television analyst, connected off Carlos Marmol in a 6-5 win over the Cubs.
Texas manager Chris Woodward said things began to unravel for Evans way before Altuve’s shot.
“You put the winning run on first base and you’re asking for it,” he said. “He has good enough stuff that he could have punched out Castro and maybe gotten Altuve. (Evans) has got to be better than that.”
Correa hit a solo homer to the opposite field shot with two outs and two strikes in the ninth off Josh Sborz, making it 2-all.
“We fight through the last out,” Altuve said. “Correa hit that homer, which was the key to the game for me.”
Nate Lowe’s RBI single off Ryan Pressly (3-1) with two outs in the 10th put the Rangers up.
Joey Gallo had an RBI double off Lance McCullers Jr. in the fourth and a bases-loaded walk in the fifth to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
A sacrifice fly by Yuli Gurriel got the Astros within a run in the sixth.
Kyle Gibson allowed seven hits and a run over six innings in his 13th start and third since coming off the injured list for Texas.
McCullers yielded three hits and one earned run in 4 1/3 innings in his return from the injured list. He had been out since May 23 because of soreness in his right shoulder.
“I felt solid,” McCullers said. “It just got away from me a little bit in the fifth with the two walks. I did a good job of keeping it close.”
Altuve hit an infield single with no outs in the sixth before Michael Brantley singled on a comebacker that hit Gibson on the back of the right leg. Gibson was a bit shaken up on the play and was checked on by a trainer before throwing a few warmup pitches and remaining in the game.
Astros: OF Kyle Tucker missed the game with an undisclosed illness. … Castro (left Achilles tendon soreness) was activated from the injured list on Tuesday. … C Garrett Stubbs and RHP Nivaldo Rodriguez were optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land to make room for McCullers and Castro on the roster.
DAVIS BECOMES FREE AGENT
Rangers OF Khris Davis, who was designated for assignment on June 8, cleared unconditional release waivers on Tuesday and became a free agent. Davis hit just .157 in 22 games this season in his first year in Texas after a trade from Oakland.
MLB announced on Tuesday that beginning on Monday, pitchers will be ejected and suspended for 10 games for using illegal foreign substances to doctor baseballs. Rangers general manager Chris Young, who pitched in the majors for 13 seasons, was involved in discussions about this issue while working in the league office before being hired by the Rangers in December.
“I think what maybe used to be a pitcher putting on a little bit of a tacky substance to improve the feel for the baseball became truly performance enhancing,” he said. “And I think it crossed the line that, now it’s really impacting the game on the field, the style of play. And I think that it probably had gotten too far out of control. And that’s why Major League Baseball has decided to really crack down on this.”
Texas right-hander Jordan Lyles (2-4, 5.37 ERA) will oppose Zack Greinke (6-2, 3.68) when the series wraps up on Wednesday night.
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