Tucker, Urquidy power Astros past Braves as Ozuna hears boos
Aug 21, 2022, 2:07 AM | Updated: 3:24 pm
(AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta outfielder Marcell Ozuna was booed by the home fans in his return, Kyle Tucker singled to drive in Yordan Alvarez for the go-ahead run in the eighth and the Houston Astros beat the Braves 5-4 to avoid a three-game sweep on Sunday.
José Urquidy won his 12th game for the AL-leading Astros.
Houston, which began the game with the AL’s best road winning percentage at .585, went 3-4 on its road trip, marking the first time this season the Astros didn’t post a .500 record or better away from home. But they avoided getting swept. The only time they’ve been swept this season came July 25-27 at Oakland.
“We got some timely hits,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker. “That was a big run we got in the ninth. Now we can go home and get some rest.”
The Braves started Ozuna in left field, and the embattled left fielder was booed each time he came to the plate after getting charged for DUI early Friday morning.
It was Ozuna’s first appearance on the field since his arrest. He struck out in his only at-bats, with his average dropping to .213, before getting pulled for pinch-hitter Eddie Rosario in the seventh.
Rafael Montero faced the minimum in the eighth for Houston, and Ryan Pressly earned a shaky 25th save in 29 chances in the ninth. Pressly gave up Travis d’Arnaud’s RBI triple, and Vaughn Grissom followed with an RBI groundout to make it 5-4.
Atlanta is 52-21 since June 1, best in the majors over that span, and it had won 11 of 12.
The Braves went up 2-0 in the first when Dansby Swanson singled and Matt Olson hit his 26th homer, a 432-foot shot to right-center. Olson has 62 RBIs since June 1, most in the NL over that span.
Atlanta starter Charlie Morton allowed two runs and five hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts in six innings. He ran into trouble in the third, loading the bases on a walk to Yuli Gurriel and giving up a two-run single to Alvarez that tied it at 2.
“Even when I’m struggling, I’m fortunate because I still feel like I have the tools to do well,” Morton said. “It’s just putting it together, innings together and at-bats together. I really do feel better now than I used to. I feel better now than when I was in my late-20s and early 30s.”
After Alvarez singled to begin the eighth off reliever Dylan Lee (3-1) and Alex Bregman walked, Tucker lined a single into right-center for his team-leading 82nd RBI. Right fielder Guillermo Heredia’s fielding miscue allowed Bregman to reach third and Tucker to advance to second.
Jeremy Peña followed with a sacrifice fly, and the Astros led 4-2. A passed ball advanced Tucker to third and Peña stole second before Jackson Stephens struck out Martin Maldonado to end the threat.
Tucker extended his hitting streak to 14 games and is batting .382 with three home runs and 15 RBIs since Aug. 7.
“I’m just trying hit balls over the plate and drive it,” Tucker said. “I’m just trying to go up and barrel balls over the plate.”
Urquidy (12-4), the winning pitcher in both of the Astros’ World Series victories against defending champion Atlanta last year, was charged with gave up two runs and five hits. He walked two and struck out six in seven innings.
Over his last 11 starts, Urquidy is 7-1 with a 2.48 ERA. Houston has won 15 of his last 20 starts.
“My purpose before the game was to reach a lot of innings,” Urquidy said. “I think seven innings is good for some rest for the guys in the bullpen.”
Houston improved to 33-13 in the day games, best in the majors. The Astros tacked on a run in the ninth off Stephens on Gurriel’s RBI single to make it 5-2.
Morton recorded his fifth double-digit strikeout performance and his second straight.
Alvarez played his first game since leaving Friday in the fifth inning with shortness of breath and went 2 for 5. … Astros 2B Jose Altuve was out of the lineup due to a sore shoulder. Mauricio Dubón took his place and went 2 for 5 with two runs.
NOT CLOSE TO CAPACITY
The Braves announced a crowd of 42,531, their 32nd sellout of the season, but there were thousands of empty seats to watch the two playoff contenders.
RHP Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.15 ERA) will face RHP Roansy Contreras (3-3, 4.02) when the Braves open a three-game series at Pittsburgh on Monday. The Astros are off Monday and have yet to announce a starter for Tuesday’s opener of a three-game home series against Minnesota.
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