x
Breaking News
More () »

Austin's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Austin, Texas | KVUE.com

Astros' ninth-inning rally falls short as Rays take Game 2 of ALCS 4-2

A Jose Altuve error led to a three-run homer in the first inning and Houston was never able to claw back into the game.
Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Rays' Mike Zunino celebrates with Tampa Bay Rays' Austin Meadows after hitting a solo home run against Houston Astros' Lance McCullers Jr. during the seventh inning in Game 2 of a baseball American League Championship Series, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

SAN DIEGO — If the Houston Astros want to make a return trip to the World Series, they'll have to get past the American League's best team this season, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay won Game 1 on Sunday night, 2-1 and Game 2 on Monday afternoon 4-2. Houston was looking to even the series Monday afternoon as the teams squared off in Game 2, but a late rally came up just short.

Houston had a chance to score against Charlie Morton in the first inning but left runners at the corners after an Alex Bregman hard-hit lineout and a Kyle Tucker strikeout.

The Rays got a two-out single in the bottom half of the first frame and then Ji-Man Choi reached on an error before Manuel Margot made the Astros pay with a three-run homer off Lance McCullers Jr.

Carlos Correa opened the second inning with a hard-hit lineout to short and Yuli Gurriel followed with a single down the right-field line. Josh Reddick popped up on the infield and then Martin Maldonado hit a ground-rule double to right, putting runners on second and third for George Springer, who fouled out to right. Margot made an incredible catch over the rail in foul ground to get the final out.

The Rays got another two-out baserunner in the bottom half of the second when McCullers Jr. hit Mike Zunino with a pitch, but McCullers Jr. was able to strikeout Austin Meadows to keep the game 3-0 Rays.

Altuve led off the third with a single up the middle and Michael Brantley followed with a strikeout looking for the first out of the frame. Bregman hit into a fielder's choice to short, advancing Altuve to second with two outs. Tucker, batting with a runner in scoring position for the second time in the game, flied out to center to end the inning.

Altuve made another throwing error to start the home half of the third inning, allowing Brandon Lowe to reach first on what should have been a routine groundout. Randy Arozarena followed with a single through the middle of the infield. McCullers Jr. got Choi to strike out swinging for the first out of the inning and Margot lined out to left for the second. Joey Wendle grounded out to end the threat.

Correa struck out to lead off the top of the fourth inning. Gurriel was hit by a pitch, bringing up Reddick with one on and one out but he flied out to right. Maldonado followed with a walk to put runners on first and second, but Springer grounded out to end the inning.

McCullers Jr. worked a clean bottom half of the frame.

Morton sat the Astros down in order in the top of the fifth.

McCullers Jr. struck out the side to end the fifth inning.

Morton was pulled in favor of Peter Fairbanks to start the sixth. Tucker flied out to deep center on Fairbanks' first pitch for the first out of the inning. Correa followed with a solo homer to left-center, making it a 3-1 lead for Tampa Bay. Gurriel lined out to right for the second out of the frame and then Reddick flied out to center to end the inning.

McCullers Jr. sat the Rays down in order in the bottom half of the frame. It kept alive a streak of 12 straight outs for the Houston starter. He had registered 9 strikeouts and 85 pitches through the six innings of work.

Fairbanks continued working in the top of the seventh inning. He struck out Maldonado, Springer and Altuve in order.

McCullers Jr. struck out the first two batters in the bottom half of the inning, increasing his strikeout total to 11 and extending his outs streak to 14. Zunino connected on a solo homer to left-center, increasing the Rays' lead to 4-1. Meadows grounded out to second to end the inning.

Aaron Loup relieved Fairbanks in the eighth and got back-to-back groundouts to start the frame before surrendering a two-out single to Tucker. The Rays made a pitching change, pulling Loup for Ryan Thompson to face Correa. Correa grounded out to end the inning.

Andre Scrubb replaced McCullers Jr. in the bottom of the eighth inning and sat the Rays down in order.

Nick Anderson came on to get the final three outs for Tampa Bay. Gurriel and Reddick reached to start the inning, bringing pinch-hitter Aledmys Díaz to the plate with two on and no outs. Diaz singled to center and then Springer grounded into a double play, scoring Gurriel and making it a 4-2 game with two outs and a runner on third for Altuve with a chance at redemption. Altuve walked on four pitches, bringing Brantley up with runners on the corners. Brantley walked to load the bases, but Bregman flied out to center to end the game.

Game highlights:

Credit: AP
Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. (43) reacts after Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Manuel Margot's three home run during the first inning in Game 2 of a baseball American League Championship Series, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Rays Manuel Margot rounds the bases past Houston Astros' Jose Altuve after hitting a three run home run against Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. during the first inning in Game 2 of a baseball American League Championship Series, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi is safe at first after Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel (10) has to come off the base to catch a throw during the first inning in Game 2 of a baseball American League Championship Series, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)